Virginia’s House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resource voted 13 to 7 Thursday to approve House Bill 1277, a proposal to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes.

“If you look at the potential economic advantages that industrial hemp would provide for the state, particularly the Southside and the Southwest, it could be an economic boon in terms of the amount of research we could do on it,” says Delegate Joseph R. Yost, the measure’s primary sponsor.

If approved into law, the proposal would direct the Department of Agriculture to establish an industrial hemp research program, including determining specific regulations.

Last year federal lawmakers approved a bill explicitly allowing hemp to be grown when being done as part of a state-sanctioned research program.

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