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A hemp plant growing in the wild.

steve p2008

Private citizens in West Virginia can now apply to the state Agriculture commissioner for a license to grow industrial hemp for commercial purposes, according to a Charleston Gazette-Mail report. Previously, licenses were only available to members of research institutions, such as colleges and universities.

The amended law was signed by Gov. Jim Justice in April. The measure keeps the definition of hemp plants as containing 0.3 percent THC, as defined under the 2014 Federal Farm Bill.

In West Virginia, products containing CBD are perfectly legal for sale but currently none of the products offered in the state are cultivated or produced in the state.

David Hawkins, owner of Mother Earth Foods, said there are some issues with the emerging CBD industry and that the regulations need some time to catch up with the market. He only carries three companies’ products because he’s “picky about the quality” and careful about the standardization of purity and dosages. Hawkins said he usually requires the products he carries to have an independent analysis.

“There are legalities in labeling, which some are better at than others, with the [Food and Drug Administration] and [Federal Trade Commission],” he said in the report. “There’s also the issue of consistency in the product when you’re looking at it from a medical perspective.”

Morgan Leach, president of the West Virginia Hemp Industries Association, said that the CBD industry could be “a new business” for the state in an economy that “is in trouble.”

“…We have this huge budget deficit, we have the decline of coal, all these severance taxes are down, you have counties that are struggling, they’ve lost 30 percent of their job base or more in a year, it’s really hard to rebound from that,” he said in the report. “If we can bring something in like hemp to help produce commodity items like food and these supplements and different things we use everyday, that can really help us climb out of the hole here.”

However, Leach explained that in order for that to happen the cost of planting hemp – as much as $200 per acre – need to be reduced.

“Could it be a multi-million dollar per year business?” Leach said. “Yes, it has the potential to do so.”

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