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Supervisors talk hemp, new sheriff’s complex

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors discussed whether to support a national movement to legitimize industrial hemp during a work session on Aug. 4.

Supervisor Richard Walker urged his colleagues to approve a resolution supporting the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, saying hemp contains 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicant in marijuana.

The average pot plant, Walker said, contains 5 to 10 percent THC.

“No one is going to get high off of hemp,” he said. “And if they tried, it would taste like lousy tobacco.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 8, 2015. It would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude hemp from the definition of marijuana, thus allowing it to be farmed in accordance with state laws.

Fourteen senators have cosponsored the bill, including former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. It was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

A similar bill introduced in the House of Representatives two weeks after the Senate bill has 74 cosponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Health.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services started growing hemp for research alongsde faculty at James Madison University, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech in 2015.

Sixteen types of seeds were imported from five countries and planted in 37 acres of university-owned land in Rockingham, Albemarle, Nottaway, Chesterfield and Orange counties, according to John Fike of VDACS, who spoke during the work session.

Hemp can be used in paint, home insulation, fuel and fabric. Its oil also can combat tumors and work as an antidepressant, among other non-psychoactive medicinal uses, Fike said.

Sheriff’s Complex
Also on Aug. 4, supervisors received the first cost estimates of a new sheriff’s office complex from Charlottesville architecture firm Grimm and Parker.

The firm identified four possible sites in Woodstock for the complex, with the most feasible option at 818 N. Main St. near the town’s Department of Motor Vehicles office.

“It has stormwater features in place, plus water and sewer,” Jim Boyd, a Grimm and Parker partner, said.

Square footage would range from 31,500 to almost 37,000. Cost estimates range from $8.2 million to $10.9 million, depending on the number of floors and other undecided factors.

The proposed building would replace the sheriff and magistrate’s offices on the bottom floor of the circuit courthouse in Woodstock.

The building is slated to be paid for through asset forfeiture funds, of which the county has about $3 million. Supervisor Cindy Bailey balked at the question of using additonal funding sources.

“We have debts to pay,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s taken this long to get to this point.”

Assistant Town Administrator Evan Vass said the firm’s next step is to complete a final design of the complex, which could take seven to 12 months.

Sheriff Tim Carter emphasized the need for his deputies to move from their cramped current location, which has housed the department since the 1970s.

“I understand the board’s view, but I also understand the situation we have,” he said. “I would like to keep pursuing this.”




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