On the eve of Christmas Eve, Crucian Hemp Farms, LLP became the first hemp cultivation company to be granted a license to grow hemp in the US Virgin Islands.
Jack Thomas, a fund manager on the Crucian Hemp Farms project, has raised $4 million of $9 million in financing needed for the project. The company has leased land and purchased greenhouses and other equipment for organic hemp cultivation.
The USDA approved the official hemp plan last May. Thus giving research and production oversight to the territory’s Department of Agriculture, the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), and an Industrial Hemp Commission comprising business leaders and government officials.
Agriculture Commissioner and Chairman of the Hemp Commission said the commission met with Crucian representatives and determined the company has met USDA requirements.
“This begins a new economic era in the U.S. Virgin Islands that will not only benefit the government through new revenue streams but also will provide economic and growth opportunities for the Territory’s farmers and local business entrepreneurs,” said Governor Albert Bryan. “I applaud the efforts of the Hemp Commission and note that they accomplished this in three months after streamlining the application process by using an online database that the commission opened to the public in September.”
Members of the Hemp Commission voted unanimously in favor of granting Crucian Hemp Farms the license. The U.S. Virgin Islands is the first U.S. territory to receive USDA approval for hemp production under interim final in the 2018 Farm Bill. The Virgin Islands has not historically produced hemp, but CBD products are found sold within the territory.
Between late May and early June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the Virgin Islands Hemp Plan. The plan outlines the procedures and requirements for cultivating and producing hemp products in the territory. It includes provisions for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the level of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), disposing of plants that do not meet the necessary testing, and other requirements that ensuring compliance with all USDA and other federal guidelines.
Crucian Hemp Farms is to be licensed and registered as a Commercial Hemp Grower, Hemp Seed Distributor, and Hemp Transporter. Crucian Hemp Farms is also the territory’s first Opportunity Zone business and the primary operators include five Virgin Islanders. They intend to cultivate and harvest 125 acres of CBD-rich hemp and project harvests up to 3 times a year with potential yields of up to 4000 pounds of dry weight per acre.
The company said, in its public record applications, it will use an environmentally sustainable approach by applying agro-ecological principles to build and maintain healthy soil. Additionally, they plan to use responsible water management practices that promote biodiversity. Crucian commits to ensuring that all plants are grown compliantly. In accordance with guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, and the Virgin Islands Hemp Commission.
The Hemp Commission members who participated in this vote are Dr. David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands; V.I. Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor; Senator Allison DeGazon; Agriculture Commissioner Positive T.A. Nelson; Carol Jacobs of the Virgin Islands Department of Justice; and Laurent Alfred, a member of the Hemp Retailers Association.