Virginia Hemp Overview

Virginia THC Overview >

What Is Hemp?

Hemp refers to the cannabis plant and cannabis plant parts containing no more than 0.3% THC. Although it is similar to marijuana, it does not have psychoactive properties like the more commonly known marijuana. Marijuana refers to cannabis plants and plant parts with more THC levels than 0.3% and is responsible for the intoxicating feeling experience after consuming cannabis or cannabis products. The difference between hemp and marijuana does not stop with the THC levels. Physically, there are certain differences in how both plants appear. Hemp plants are often taller and more fibrous than marijuana plants.

Hemp has several industrial applications dating back to the early 90s, which makes people refer to the plant as industrial hemp. So, when hemp is cultivated for industrial uses, such as textiles, paper, biodiesel, and animal feed, it is called industrial hemp.

Besides industrial purposes, the hemp plant and its parts are useful for nutritional benefits. These include:

  • Hemp Seed: The edible seed of the hemp plant is known as hemp seed. Hemp seed contains protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Hemp seed can be consumed raw, powdered, or pressed into oil

  • Hemp Flower: Hemp flower contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids of any portion of the hemp plant. Hemp flower can be smoked, vaporized, or used in the preparation of edibles

  • Hemp Extract: Hemp extract is a highly concentrated form of cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant. Hemp extract may be used to manufacture tinctures, capsules, and topicals

  • Hemp Oil: Hemp oil is derived from the hemp seed. Hemp oil may be used in cooking or as a nutritional supplement

  • Hemp Hearts: The kernel of the hemp seed is known as hemp hearts. Hemp hearts are high in protein and fiber. Hemp hearts can be consumed raw, crushed into a powder, or baked with

  • Hemp Milk: Hemp milk is a type of plant milk derived from hemp seeds and may be substituted for cow's milk in a number of recipes

Is Hemp Legal in Virginia?

Yes. Initially, farmers were prohibited from cultivating hemp pursuant to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, as cannabis plants were prohibited regardless of the THC concentration levels. In 2014, the United States Congress allowed state agricultural departments, universities, or colleges to cultivate hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill, provided the tetrahydrocannabinol content did not exceed 0.3%. Within Virginia, research programs were established at James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Virginia State University, and Virginia Tech.

In 2018, the United States Congress enacted the Farm Bill, which reclassified hemp and removed it from the Controlled Substances Act's classification of marijuana. That year, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation allowing farmers to produce industrial hemp without being affiliated with a university research program. However, they were required to be registered with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

The 2018 Farm Bill also required states to submit hemp production plans and get them approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In November 2021, the USDA approved VDACS's plan to regulate hemp production. Therefore, in January 2022, the VDACS began regulating hemp production in the commonwealth in accordance with the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Under the Virginia Hemp Production plan, residents can grow hemp if they obtain hemp grower licenses. It is also legal to ship hemp products across state lines as long as such products are compliant with state and federal laws.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Virginia?

Hemp-derived products are legal as long as their CBD-to-THC ratio is 25:1. Hemp may be cultivated for food products and edibles, and smoking hemp is legal in private locations. Note that smoking in public is illegal in Virginia.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Virginia?

A Virginia municipality cannot outrightly ban hemp cultivation or processing as no such provision exists under state law. However, a municipality may limit where industrial hemp cultivation and processing may occur within its borders.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in Virginia

To cultivate hemp in Virginia, you must first get an Industrial Hemp Grower Registration from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Individuals convicted of a felony for an offense related to a controlled substance within the last 10 years are ineligible to apply for an industrial hemp grower registration.

You must also complete a hemp processor registration with the VDACS if you intend to process hemp in the state. The state defines hemp processing as converting hemp into a hemp product. Hemp product is any finished product containing industrial hemp, including rope, automobile parts, building materials, animal feed, animal bedding, oil containing an industrial hemp extract, cosmetics, or food or food additives for human consumption.

You must complete the relevant application and submit your FBI Identity History Summary to get an industrial hemp grower registration. The FBI Identity History Summary provided to the VDACS must be at most 60 days prior to the date of your application. Your application must also include the coordinates for each of your prospective industrial hemp lots.

If a commercial or business entity holds the industrial hemp grower registration, each key member in the business must submit an FBI Identity History Summary. A "key participant" is a sole owner; each partner in a partnership; or any individual having executive management authority in a corporation, including the CEO, COO, and CFO. Note that you (the applicant) are solely responsible for all associated criminal background check fees.

Submit the completed application form (Industrial Hemp Grower Registration Application or Industrial Hemp Processor Application), supporting documentation, and applicable fee to:

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Office of Policy, Planning, and Research

P.O. Box 526

Richmond, VA 23218

For more information on obtaining a hemp license in Virginia, call the VDACS at (804) 786-1241 or visit the industrial hemp page of the VDACS website.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Virginia?

The annual industrial hemp grower registration application fee is $150, while the yearly industrial hemp processor registration application fee is $200. To make payment, you may use a check made payable to the "Treasurer of Virginia." Checks may be included in the license application or renewal materials sent to the VDACS mail address.

How to Grow Hemp in Virginia

If you are a registered industrial hemp grower, you must submit a planting report to VDACS within 14 calendar days of planting seeds, cuttings, or clones. Also, if you plan to plant hemp multiple times throughout the growing season, you must submit multiple planting reports. If you do not plant on the production field listed on your registration, you must submit a planting report to VDACS by July 31. You may email your report to or mail it to P.O. Box 1163 Richmond, VA 23218. For more information on completing the hemp planting report, use the guidance document on the VDACS website.

Also, before planting your hemp seeds or clones, you must obtain lot identification numbers from the USDA's Farm Service Agency. Subsequently, you may select your preferred variety of industrial hemp to be grown. Note that the VDACS does not maintain a list of prohibited industrial hemp varieties nor provide seed or plant to hemp growers. Since many different varieties of hemp seeds are available, you should carefully select the right one for your goals and buy from reputable seed sellers. After planting your crops, you must report industrial hemp acreage or greenhouse square footage to the FSA.

As with most cultivation, it may be necessary to use pesticides to control pests when growing industrial hemp. A limited number of pesticides are currently registered for use on industrial hemp, and no food tolerances have been established for any pesticide applied to hemp grown for animal or human consumption. In Virginia, the legal use of a pesticide is determined by the instructions on the product label, which are developed as part of the federal registration procedure for all pesticide products and based on the site of application.

To be legally used in Virginia, all pesticides, including natural, synthetic, and organic-approved products, must be registered with VDACS. Virginia can only register pesticides that have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or are exempt from the EPA's registration procedure under Section 25(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The use of pesticides in hemp cultivation must adhere to label instructions and may require compliance with the federal Worker Protection Standard. For more information on pesticide use in hemp cultivation in Virginia, review the Pesticide Use on Hemp guide published on the VDACS website. Alternatively, contact the VDACS’ Office of Pesticide Services for further inquiries regarding pesticide use in hemp cultivation in Virginia.

Prior to harvesting your crops, you must select a trained sampling agent and a testing lab to sample and test each hemp lot no later than 30 days before the lot is harvested. It is illegal to harvest a hemp lot before a trained sampling agent collects a compliance sample. Note that you are responsible for sampling, sample delivery or shipping, and testing costs. You can find a list of trained sampling agents and VDACS-approved testing laboratories on the industrial hemp page of the VDACS website.

You must submit a harvest report to the VDACS within 5 days of completing harvest, crop failure, or voluntary destruction of an industrial hemp lot. Note that the THC concentration of an industrial hemp lot must not exceed the acceptable industrial hemp THC level. The acceptable level is when the application of the measurement of uncertainty (MOU) to the reported Delta-9 THC content concentration level on a dry weight basis produces a distribution or range that includes 0.3% or less. A hemp lot sample's total Delta-9 THC concentration minus the testing laboratory's MOU may not exceed 0.3%. For more information on remediating or disposing of your crop, see the VDACS' hemp cultivation instructional guide.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Virginia?

Hemp flower is legal as long as it does not exceed the state-prescribed CBD-to-THC ratio (25:1). Such products are available at hemp stores, CBD stores, and wellness stores in the state. There are no limits on the quantities that may be bought, and businesses may also ship in hemp flower compliant with state law.

Hemp vs. THC

Hemp is a cannabis plant or cannabis plant part with low THC concentration (0.3% or less), while THC is a compound found in the cannabis plant which causes a high.

Hemp vs. CBD

Hemp and CBD are not the same. Hemp is a plant of the cannabis family, while CBD is a naturally occurring compound in hemp and marijuana plants. CBD does not produce a "high" and is more commonly derived from hemp than marijuana plants. Since CBD is not associated with psychoactive effects, it is more commonly used for its therapeutic effects, such as its anti-oxidative, anti-seizure, anti-inflammatory, and anxiety relief properties. CBD can be offered in the form of oils, tablets, vaporization liquids, or tinctures.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Virginia if it does not contain more than 0.3% THC. However, marijuana-derived CBD oil is only legal for patients under the state's medical marijuana program who have obtained written certifications for medical cannabis use.

Hemp Applications

For decades, hemp has been used for industrial products in various businesses. Textile manufacture is one of hemp's most important industrial applications. The hemp plant fibers are particularly valuable in producing long-lasting and breathable textiles such as clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Paper is another commercial application for hemp. Hemp paper is well-known for its high quality and durability, and it can be manufactured without the use of toxic chemicals. As a result, it is a more environmentally friendly alternative to regular paper created from wood pulp.

Hemp is also used in the building industry. Hempcrete, a blend of hemp fibers and lime, is a durable, lightweight, and insulating construction material. It can be used to build walls, floors, and roofs. Hemp may also be used to make insulation and other construction components like doors and window frames.

In this section: