Industrial hemp group launches campaign for crop's growth

Hemp growing at an undisclosed location in the Shenandoah Valley
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VIENNA, W.Va. (AP) — A nonprofit trade association has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help back the effort to turn industrial hemp into the West Virginia's next niche crop.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reports that the West Virginia Hemp Industries Association launched an online Go Fund Me campaign last week. As of Wednesday morning, the group had raised $585 of its $12,500 goal.

Association Executive Director J. Morgan Leach, of Vienna, says the money will go toward supporting education, advocacy and outreach efforts to assist in developing the state's capacity to profit from this new cash crop.

Industrialized hemp is categorized with marijuana as a schedule one controlled substance but differs in that it has a lower level of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Hemp can be used in food, to make oil, and even make clothes so Renfroe hopes new knowledge can help lift some heavy regulations for industrial production.

Industrial hemp became legal in the state last year for cultivation, research and marketing purposes in West Virginia. The state has issued 22 licenses for growing the crop in 2017.

Hemp is not allowed to be commercially grown in the United States. Virginia state law does permit certain universities, like JMU, to grow the crop. And, with extensive regulations, they do. The largest industrialized hemp field in Virginia is actually growing in the Shenandoah Valley.