A. To the extent that adequate funds are available for the program, the Commissioner shall undertake research of industrial hemp production through the establishment and oversight of an industrial hemp research program to be directly managed by public institutions of higher education. This research program shall consist primarily of demonstration plots planted and cultivated in Virginia by selected growers. The growers shall be licensed pursuant to subsection A of § 3.2-4115 prior to planting any industrial hemp.
1. Oversee and analyze the growth of industrial hemp by licensed growers, for agronomy research and analysis of required soils, growing conditions, and harvest methods relating to the production of various varieties of industrial hemp that may be suitable for various commercial hemp products;
2. Conduct seed research on various types of industrial hemp that are best suited to be grown in Virginia, including seed availability, creation of Virginia hybrid types, and in-the-ground variety trials and seed production, and may establish a program to recognize certain industrial hemp seeds as being Virginia varieties of hemp seed;
9. Study the use of industrial hemp in new energy technologies, including electricity generation, biofuels, or other forms of energy resources; the growth of industrial hemp on reclaimed mine sites; the use of hemp seed oil in the production of fuels; and the production costs, environmental issues, and costs and benefits involved with the use of industrial hemp for energy.
1. Subject the industrial hemp research program to any criminal liability under the controlled substances laws of the Commonwealth. This exemption from criminal liability is a limited exemption that shall be strictly construed and that shall not apply to any activities of the industrial hemp research program that are not authorized; or
D. The Commissioner shall pursue any permits or waivers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration or appropriate federal agency that are necessary for the advancement of the industrial hemp research program.
2015, cc. 158, 180.