Hemp production will be legal in July in Virginia, although contradictory with federal laws
Some hemp enthusiasts, however, have found avenues around current legislation. Marty Phipps sells hemp in the form of bedding for horses, chickens, ducks, lambs and goats. He started his business, Old Dominion Hemp, in 2015 after working as an advocate for the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition.
Phipps legally imports his hemp from Holland before converting it into bedding. He said it produces a longer lasting and more eco-friendly product than traditional pine bedding. While he said he is curious about the idea of growing his own hemp, he’s not planning on seeing seeds anytime soon and thinks he won’t be the only one without.
The seeds, he said, will need to be licensed before farmers can buy them. This licensure would need to occur at the federal level.
To Phipps, hemp could be something of a saving grace for Virginia agriculture. For one, it would be another commodity farmers can plant and sell to make a living. He said its potential is so high that other countries are proving to be sluggish in sending over seeds for farmers.
“The U.S. is going to pass this law and hemp is going to move its way into the market,” he said. “It’s going to make a dent. Other countries realize this so they’re hesitant in presenting us a seed so we don’t destroy their hemp export market.”
Along with fiscal help, Phipps said the plant has considerable environmental potential as well. He said growing it is good for the soil, it’s a tough enough plant that it won’t require the same pesticides that cotton does, and it can be used as a bedding to repurpose animal waste into manure, which a typical pine bedding cannot do because of its acidity.