Farmers and researchers take part in Virginia Tech's Hemp Field Day

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) — Over 250 researchers and farmers joined forces to learn more about hemp in southwestern Virginia. At Hemp Field Day, they shared production tips and networked.

Wayne Grizzard, owner of Southern Virginia Hemp Company and Virginia Homegrown Botanicals, tends to his hemp plants. Photo by Andrew Gionfriddo, Capital News Service.

John Straw is the General Manager of TruHarvest Farms.

"It's the largest hemp farm in Southwest Virginia, we have about 85 acres of hemp planting," Straw said.

Hemp is the cannabis plant grown and used mainly for Cannabidiol (CBD) production in Virginia. Hemp had been outlawed nationwide since the "Marihuana Tax Act" was passed in the 1930s, banning both marijuana and hemp.

But hemp has far less THC than its psychedelic cousin.

CBD, on the other hand, is naturally occurring chemical that some say has mental and physical health benefits.

Since the Farm Bill passed, hemp and its derived products are now legal on a federal level once again, and it's booming across the country. Uses for hemp include thousands of products, like rope, oils, clothes, fibers similar to plastic, food and more. Many in Virginia hope it could be a new cash crop.

Straw wanted to learn from others about their production styles. That's why he came to Virginia Tech's Hemp Field Day at Kentland Farm.

"I came out to network, meet some of the industry leaders and professionals," Straw said.

There were over 250 farmers and researchers in attendance.

"We wanted to share the research we've been conducting here at Virginia Tech as well as talk to farmers and see how can we continue that research to advance their production in the future," Kelli Scott, a Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent with Montgomery County, said.

There were speakers from Virginia Tech and the hemp industry, and vendors who support farmers and hemp production.

"We see a huge rise in interest around Cannabinoids and CBD type production products, and so as many as those consumers begin to consume those products, it's really good that they have a sense of quality production," Scott said.

She says there's still a lot we don't know about hemp, but an event like this one can bring us a little bit closer to finding those answers.

"We have so much to learn when it comes to Hemp production, and so today is just beginning to scratch the surface on what's possible," Scott said.

Straw added, "These events just pull what knowledge there is, pull it together in one place."