On January 26, the Virginia House of Delegates unanimously voted to pass a bill that would allow its citizens to grow and process hemp products. Similarly to Oregon, South Carolina, Colorado, Maine, Vermont and other states, Virginia sought to give people the legal grounds to oppose the current unconstitutional federal ban that was in place for this industry. Every single representative voted yes to this proposition, yielding a 98-0 majority in favor of the hemp farming initiative, or House Bill 699.
What does Virginia gain from legalizing hemp?
Hemp, which is not to be confused with marijuana, belongs to the same family of plants, cannabis sativa, but does not contain enough tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in order to be psychoactive. In fact, most countries around the world have already made this significant delimitation between hemp and marijuana. Instead of banning hemp altogether, they introduced a limit of 0.3% allowed THC in hemp varieties, which renders it useless for recreational purposes. This has yet to happen in the United States.
Allowing an economy the liberty to grow, process and produce hemp-based commodities adds to its overall stability. Hemp is now used in almost everything you can think of. In fact, there are over 25,000 possible uses for this plant, from the medicinal uses of seeds and oil, to their widespread use in cosmetics, clothing, paper, car parts and even airplane elements. Manufacturers of green construction products process the inner woody core to obtain an incredible, environmentally friendly insulating material with superior efficiency compared to conventional alternatives.
In 2013, the American hemp industry was expected to yield around $450 million a year. Now, analysts predict that the market has grown to $600 million. Despite this need for hemp, the majority of the raw produce is imported because of the nationwide federal ban. Even with a handful of states taking matters into their own hands, the local supply is still far from reaching the current U.S. needs. Instead of supporting local economic growth, the creation of jobs and overall financial stability for American citizens, through this ban the government invests in co-dependency with the nations that export hemp products.
It can save your life
Processed hemp is also a miracle-plant for our health. Besides drastically reducing the chances of developing skin cancer and breast cancer, the ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids it contains greatly aid our bodies in fighting off cardiovascular diseases and heart conditions. For vegetarians and vegans, it’s one of the rare ways to obtain these essential fatty acids. Athletes who desire an extra source of protein can rely on hemp powder, particularly since it has almost as much protein as soybeans do. Unlike soy, hemp is less likely to be genetically modified, and has a higher concentration of essential amino acids.
Obviously, marijuana varieties can also be grown for medicinal or recreational purposes. Cancer and AIDS patients benefit from this substance immensely, without having to endure other side effects that are commonly induced by pharmaceuticals.
A license will be required
In order to legally plant hemp, Virginia inhabitants will have to obtain a license from the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which will be responsible for setting-up much needed regulations to issue these permits for those who want to become farmers.
If passed through the senate, the HB699 will be an incredible step towards economic stability for Virginia manufacturers and farmers. Instead of importing the required materials, local farms can be set up where much needed jobs will be created. Moreover, since no traveling or import levies will be involved, the overall production cost will be lowered.
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