PARKERSBURG, W.VA. – Governor Justice is looking for the state’s next niche crop. The West Virginia Hemp Industries Association (WVHIA) launches a Go Fund Me campaign to support industrial hemp as the state’s new niche crop. The WVHIA is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association that represents farmers, businesses, researchers and investors working with industrial hemp in West Virginia. They are requesting support for education, advocacy, and outreach efforts to assist in developing the state’s capacity to profit from this new cash crop.
Industrial hemp became legal last year for cultivation, research, and marketing purposes in West Virginia. The program has gained considerable interest not only from the farmers of the state, but also from state leadership. Newly elected Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt has expressed interest in the potential for hemp and has supported legislation to expand access for farmers and researchers to enter the pilot program. You can lean more about efforts to develop the crop at wvhia.org and wvhemp.org. You can donate to their campaign to at Support Hemp – WV’s New Niche Crop.
The Pharmacy Board of the state with the highest opioid addiction rate recommends “cannabidiol” (CBD) to protect interests in future drug.
West Virginia has gained a reputation for having the worst opioid problem in the U.S. The state attorney general has been forced to sue pharmaceutical companies for “flooding” the state with pills that have contributed to the widespread addiction crisis. Companies are alleged to have “incentivized” opioid sales through illegal means and show no intentions of stopping.
“Even after we charged them civilly and took civil fines after them, even after they had memorandums of understanding that they knew what to do now, three years later, they started violating the law again,” said Joe Rannazzisi, previously with the DEA for 29 years in an interview with CBS News. 
Their has been considerable debate over the scheduling of CBD after the industry has taken off in America, expected to grow to $2.1 billion by 2020 according to Forbes. The crux of the debate is in the interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (“CSA) and the Agricultural Act of 2014 (“Farm Bill”). Further rules have been proposed by the DEA to include CBD on the schedule under the controversial Marihuana Extract Rule that is currently being challenged by the Hemp Industries Association. The main question for hemp farmers is whether the CBD derived from Hemp permitted under Section 7606 of the Farm Bill is subject to control under the CSA.
According to the Ninth Circuit, that answer is clearly no.
“naturally occurring cannabinoids are not unlawful substances per se. In Hemp Indus. Ass’n. v. DEA, 357 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2004), the Ninth Circuit ruled that naturally occurring cannabinoids in industrial hemp foods, including oil, were never scheduled under the CSA; therefore, the DEA has no jurisdiction. This means that naturally occurring industrial hemp cannabinoids are federally legal in the view of the Ninth Circuit.” Hoban Law Group.
Further, “under the CSA, the DEA can regulate foodstuffs and related products containing natural THC if it is contained within “marijuana,” and can regulate synthetic THC of any kind. But they cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana–i.e., non-psychoactive industrial hemp products–because non-psychoactive industrial hemp is not included in Schedule I, as set forth above. This is because statutes must be interpreted strictly and pursuant to their specific terms, and because the DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled.” Hoban Law Group.
GW Pharmaceuticals has submitted Epidiolex and Sativex to the FDA for approval. The rules state that CBD is not legal for sale as a dietary supplement, provided that CBD has never been “marketed” as a dietary supplement before investigational trials had begun. The FDA claims that there is no evidence that CBD was ever marketed as a supplement, and is therefore not exempt from the rule. However, this finding has been challenged by the Hemp Industries Association and others who saw this coming.
“The industry and I were part of this, we responded in spades in the sense that we provided literally reams of documents and information that shows that CBD was marketed as a dietary supplement long prior to the believed date of application of GW Pharma,” said Hoban, managing partner of the law firm Hoban & Feola, LLC, during an interview for a “Healthy INSIDER Podcast.”
The WV Board of Pharmacy has prompted the WV Legislature to reschedule CBD. Delegate Joe Ellington, Chair for the House Health and Human Resources Committee, is the lead sponsor for amending H.B. 2526. This bill would attempt to amend the state Controlled Substance Act and make CBD sale and use illegal without a prescription. However, CBD has not been defined as a drug by the FDA at this time and is a blatant attempt by the pharmaceutical lobby to monopolize the market before their drugs even get approved. This bill is putting the cart way before the horse by recommending that CBD be placed on the schedule before it is approved by the FDA.
“HB2526 (f) Notwithstanding any provision of the code to the contrary, the sale, wholesale, distribution or prescribing of a cannabidiol in a product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is permitted and shall be placed on the schedule as provided for by the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
The pharmaceutical companies are now fighting for the very drug they lobbied against in the past. The hypocrisy of this situation is astounding. Further, CBD has potential to diminish addictive behaviors according to recent studies, and could be of real benefit to successful treatment and recovery. Big Pharma may now be trying to profit from the very situation they helped to create.
The WVHIA is calling on all West Virginian’s who have been adversely impacted by the opioid crisis to ask their representatives to oppose H.B. 2526 We cannot reward Big Pharma by allowing them to pass this bill. WVHIA Director J. Morgan Leach made the following comment:
“Natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs are under attack by Big Pharma. H.B. 2526 attempts to monopolize the CBD market and prevent nutraceutical companies from producing natural versions of their synthetic equivalent. It’s analogous to requiring a prescription for aspirin and then making competing supplements such as turmeric or Vitamin C illegal.”
 West Virginia sues Prescription Drug Wholesalers for “Flooding” State – Insurance Journal. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/01/11/394577.htm
 West Virginia Is Suing McKesson Corporation For Incentivizing Opioid Sales – CBS News. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/05/25/west-virginia-is-suing-mckesson-corporation-for-incentivizing-opioid-sales/
 The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy – Pharmacol Rev. 2006 Sep; 58(3): 389–462. doi: 10.1124/pr.58.3.2 available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/
 Cannabidiol: Pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders – Addictive Behavior (p. 12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4707667/pdf/nihms578159.pdf
Just this morning, our governor expressed his support for new niche crops in WV. “We don’t need to have 500 nichecrops,” Justice said. “It may be as simple as having two or three.” The State Journal – Niche Crops Could Make Agriculture Mean Even Bigger Business in W.Va. With your support on H.B. 2453, industrial hemp could be one of those important niche crops that will support our state’s agricultural sector and the diversification of our state’s economy. Expanding access for farmers toenter the pilot program will help establish industrial hemp as a new niche crop for West Virginia. We need cash crops to improve our current farming operations. Expanding the program will increase the supply chain for industrial hemp and justify investment needed for specialized equipment and infrastructure. Please email your delegates in the Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee to vote YES on H.B. 2453 in support of the farmers of this state!
LOCAL FOOD AND FARMS DAY AT THE CAPITOL:FEBRUARY 23An Alliance of Farm Groups Host Event to Engage with State LegislatorsThe West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, the West Virginia Farmers Market Association, and the West Virginia Farmers Cooperative will host the 3rd annual Local Food and Farms Day at the Capitol on February 23rd at 9:00 AM. It will be held in the Upper House Rotunda at the State Capitol with both the press and the public invited. The day will be focused on engaging policymakers and citizens on the opportunities and challenges in developing the local food and agriculture sector in West Virginia.The three hosting organizations work statewide to build the local food economy by supporting small-scale farmers, farmers markets, and local food businesses so they can best reach West Virginia consumers. An important part of this is advocating for policy that allows for local food enterprises to succeed.There are three policy priorities this year, 1) the Cottage Foods bill, 2) Rabbit to Restaurant rule, and 3) Surface Owner’s Land Reunion bill. The Cottage Foods bill would expand the current cottage food law to enable home-based processing of low-acid preserves (ie. green beans, ramps, tomatoes) to be sold at venues such as farmers markets. The Rabbit rule would increase the number of rabbits that can be processed from 1,000 to 5,000 rabbits per year per premise to better allow small farmers to safely and profitably sell to local restaurants. The Surface Owner’s Land Reunion bill would give landowners’ right to first bid on the mineral rights if they are being sold at a public tax sale auction, helping to preserve West Virginia’s farmland.There is a large amount of opportunity to strengthen West Virginia’s economy and its’ citizens health by developing the local food sector. These are objectives that resonates with people on both sides of the political aisle, and provides an exciting avenue for citizens and legislators to work together toward a common bipartisan goal.
Our Founding Fathers were men of great wisdom. In rebellion, they drafted the Declaration of Independence, arguably the most important document in American History. That document represented more than the freedom of our people, it represented our commitment to remain free people. After more than 80 years of unjustified prohibition, we are now free to cultivate a crop that was once considered essential to the wealth and protection of our nation.
We would like to invite you to join the President’s Day Hemp Meeting at Starlings Coffee in honor of George Washington’s birthday and our newfound freedom. We will have presentations from representatives of the West Virginia Hemp Industries Association, members of the West Virginia Farmers Cooperative, and guest members of our state government.
Don’t miss the opportunity to congregate with leaders of this exciting new industry.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hemp Business Owners, Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Activists to Push for Passage of Industrial Hemp Farming Act in Congress
WASHINGTON, DC – Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization working to change state and federal laws to allow commercial hemp farming, is organizing a Hemp Lobby Day in coordination with the Hemp Product Expo sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), to occur March 1, and February 28 2017, respectively, on Capitol Hill. Hundreds of hemp business owners, farmers and agronomists, entrepreneurs, and activists from around the country will meet with Congressional representatives in Washington, DC, to garner support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, and push Congress to make 2017 the year industrial hemp farming is finally made legal in all 50 states. To register for this event, or sign up for concurrent lobby efforts taking place in states around the country, please SIGN UP HERE.
Hemp Legislative Update HERE.
In the midst of challenging times, our roots stay strong beneath our feet. It is from these roots that our food, our culture, and our prosperity will grow. The WVHIA is committed to growing new crops that will diversify our economy and improve the business climate for all West Virginians. Whether you’re a landowner, a laborer, or an entrepreneur, there is tremendous opportunity to grow, work, and invest in bio-based economy of the future.
Join us for the historic Hemp Day at the West Virginia Capitol on Monday, March 27, 2017 to learn how you can get involved. Exhibitors will display hemp products and the many benefits sustainable industries can have for our health and our environment. With nearly 25,000 products to be derived from this plant, there is plenty of room for entrepreneurism and innovation in this up and coming industry that is already valued at over $600 million in the United States alone.
If you’re committed to a prosperous West Virginia, please become a sponsor of our campaign to promote agri-business in the Mountain State. You can learn more about participating in Hemp Day and contributing to our Kickstarter by visiting us at wvhia.org. To join your local hemp association, please visit thehia.org and select the West Virginia Chapter.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The West Virginia Hemp Industries Association (WVHIA) would like to announce that residents in West Virginia successfully grew and harvested the first yield of industrial hemp in this state in over 70 years. In 2017, we are seeking motivated entrepreneurs, business and thought leaders like yourself to make a difference in our state’s burgeoning agricultural industry. You may already be asking yourself, “What does hemp have to do with me?” We are glad you asked! Let us explain why you should consider a Business, Farming, or Supporting membership with the WVHIA.
First, there is a demand for domestic hemp. With nearly 25,000 products that can be derived from the plant, the total retail value of hemp products in 2015 sold in the US was $573 million and growing. This industry provides new potential for investment in your future success.
Second, you can grow hemp in state with relative ease. Whether you’re a landowner, a skilled laborer, or a current business owner, you can invest or grow and potentially receive an additional income from hemp without leaving your chosen profession. If we all together produce a critical mass supply of locally grown hemp, new industries will develop; thus diversifying West Virginia’s economy and improving the business climate for everyone in our state.
Third, we are committed to developing infrastructure in hemp farming, processing and advanced manufacturing. Your participation in our supply chain of industrial hemp will be a catalyst for the rebirth in quality American Made products and ignite job creation for all West Virginians.
If you’re committed to your own financial future that would translate to a more prosperous future in West Virginia, it’s time to think out of the box. Contact us to learn how hemp can help you and your business! Please visit us at thehia.org and select the West Virginia Chapter to join your local hemp movement.
We look forward to hearing from you!