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UVA Completes First Hemp Harvest with Success

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The University of Virginia has completed its first successful harvest of hemp plants in collaboration with a private plant biotechnology company.

The harvest — coming after the first year of a three-year, $1.1 million sponsored research agreement between U.Va. and biotech company 22nd Century Group — is one of several private-public partnerships across the commonwealth investigating hemp and medical marijuana. Principal investigator Michael Timko wants to renew Virginia as a leading producer of hemp and to restore land depleted by tobacco and mining.

“The idea is, why should we be importing things from overseas when we could be growing it here,” said Timko, a biology professor at U.Va. “Plus, it creates new sources of revenue for farmers.”

22nd Century’s first harvest with U.Va. identified varieties of hemp ideal for growing in Virginia.

Industrial hemp, although the same species as marijuana, is a distinct strain that has lower concentrations of the psychoactive agent tetrahyrdocannabinol, or THC. Hemp is used to make nutritional supplements, paper, rope and oils.

Hemp is relatively easy to grow, Timko said, but a century-long ban on the crop has made it hard to find varieties suited to the Virginia climate. [Read more at Richmond Times-Dispatch]

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