Alliance member group Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards sponsored a hemp Panel at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise campus this past February to discuss the potential hemp has to boost the economy in Appalachia.
“Industrial Hemp represents a unique opportunity as a key component to a more diversified sustainable economy in the Appalachian region. It is not enough to simply end the destructive practices of extraction from our mountains, we must also create new opportunities for our people to prosper. As the coal industry falls away it is important to be looking forward to what comes next. Industrial Hemp as a cash crop, medicinal herbs, and food crop along with its processing, distribution, and product production can be a big part of the new economic mix. Panel discussions like our AppalCEED Economic Series are just the first step in the process of legalization, education, and engagement with our communities and especially growers.” – Adam Malle, Administrative Coordinator for Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.
Despite hemp’s potential to create new economic opportunities, current state and federal regulations hinder this growth due to hemp’s classification as a Schedule I controlled substance. UVa-Wise faculty are working with the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition and other organizations to create a plan that would involve growing different varieties of hemp on 10 acres of reclaimed strip-mined land the owned by the college. Read more about the panel at the Coalfield Progress
Two years ago President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, allowing universities and state agriculture departments to cultivate industrial hemp for limited purposes. Several states in “Appalachia are now looking to industrial hemp as a way to promote economic diversification and environmental preservation.” – Read more at Appalachian Voices