CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin allowed several bills to become law this week without signing them. One of those is HB 3011, also known as the Hemp Bill.
“I see the value of this crop that is something that could turn agriculture around in West Virginia and make it one of the most profitable industries that we have,” Del. Manypenny said.
Manypenny is talking about industrial hemp. In the federal Farm Bill, passed last fall, Congress gave each state the ability to regulate the crop. Manypenny stressed this is in no way is connected to growing medicinal marijuana.
“It would take somebody a wheelbarrow full or more to get any psychoactive effect from it,” he explained.
Industrial hemp could be a major moneymaker according to the delegate.
“Hempseed oil, for highly refined oil, is going for $60-$70 a gallon on the internet,” said Manypenny.
Hempseed oil is often used in body care products, lubricants, paints, inks and plastics.
Manypenny said once the oil has been squeezed out the leftover seed has countless uses.
“The expelled seed could be used as hemp flour. It can be used an animal feed. Then the industrial fiber can be used for numerous things such as cloth, fiber for ropes, for building materials such as wood,” according to Manypenny.
Hemp fibers can be pressed into wood pellets for bio-fuel.
Manypenny believes growing hemp here in West Virginia is an economic game-changer.
“All of the industrial hemp we use in America is imported from China and Canada,” he said. “We should be producing jobs in West Virginia growing industrial hemp.”
Both WVU and West Virginia State University are looking at hemp research to find other uses for the plant.