Congressman Goodlatte visits Valley hemp field, pushes for legalization

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SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WHSV) — Members of the community came together Friday for a "Field Day" on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley to learn more about industrial hemp.

The Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition and James Madison University co-sponsored the event, based at a hemp field at an undisclosed location in the Valley. It is being used for research by James Madison University.

WHSV previously reported on this field, known as the largest industrialized hemp field in Virginia.

While there is sometimes confusion between industrial hemp and marijuana, marijuana has much more THC, a hallucinogen found in marijuana. However, currently, hemp is classified as a schedule one controlled substance by the federal government.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who represents much of the Shenandoah Valley in the House of Representatives, is against the legalization of marijuana, but has co-sponsored H.R. 3530, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017.

The bill would remove industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

"We need to change the law and when we change the law, then I think this Valley and lots of other places in the country as well will become prime spots for growing hemp and getting it into the market in large quantities," said Goodlatte (R-6th District) at the event Friday.

Industrial hemp can be used for thousands of products, like rope, oils, clothes, fibers similar to plastic, food and more. Historically, it was also one of the earliest grown crops in the Shenandoah Valley, serving as a cash crop for many farmers centuries ago, when hemp was necessary to create rigging for ships.

Rep. Goodlatte says the bill still needs to first pass through the House Energy and Commerce committee, who he says he is working with. Then, it can go before the full House of Representatives.

Virginia Tech, James Madison University and Virginia State University are currently researching different uses for the crop.

WHSV was told by Rep. Goodlatte's staff that the congressman would only answer questions related to hemp during his visit on Friday, and not take any related to other current events.