In 2014, the US Congress authorized state agriculture departments and universities/colleges to grow hemp, so long as the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration did not exceed 0.3 percent. Within Virginia, James Madison University (JMU), University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia State University (VSU), and Virginia Tech (VT) began research programs. In 2018, the state authorized private institutions of higher education to join in the research.
The Virginia General Assembly established a program in 2018 that allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp without being associated with a university research program. Registration with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services made the crop a legal product. The focus was on the fiber in the plant. The state did not permit farmers to grow hemp in order to extract cannabidiol (CBD).1
The Virginia Hemp Company sought to recruit hay farmers, getting them to grow hemp instead. The company proposed building the state's first hemp processing plant, in Mount Jackson. The fibers would be used in textiles or pressed into "hempcrete," a substitute for concrete which could be used in building houses.
A farmer in the Shenandoah Valley who had been growing hemp in asociation with James Madison Uiversity research commented:2