Legislature’s anti-hemp business bungle

An editorial from the Charleston Gazette-Mail 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Republicans who took control of the Legislature are supposed to be pro-business — but they clumsily undercut a brand-new West Virginia industry that might create Mountain State jobs.

The state Agriculture Department issued permits for various landowners to grow industrial hemp, a valuable commercial product unrelated to the cannabis plant used by marijuana puffers. Permit holders invested money and got ready for planting.

But in the final moments of the 2016 session, legislators passed a bill voiding those permits.

SB 159 says industrial hemp may be grown only by the Agriculture Department or state universities. Today is the deadline for Gov. Tomblin to sign or veto the law change.

We hope he scuttles it and keeps open the door for a new West Virginia business. If he doesn’t, expensive lawsuits will follow.

Some hemp supporters called the legislative action “a business horror story.”

Don Smith of Tornado, owner of Agri-Carb Electric Corp., told reporter Elaina Sauber: “We followed the letter of the law and spent tens of thousands of dollars, only to have the rug pulled out from under us…

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