West Virginia House backs higher ginseng fines

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s House has voted 91-7 to increase the minimum fine for illegally harvesting or dealing in ginseng from $100 to $500.

The bill passed Monday also increases the highest possible fine for a first offense from $500 to $1,000.

Second offenses carry higher fines and up to six months in jail on the misdemeanor.

According to lawmakers, the trade in the plant, an endangered species used as an herbal remedy, must be controlled to protect the survival of wild ginseng.

It’s against the law to dig ginseng on West Virginia’s public lands or to harvest any less than five years old or outside the Sept. 1-Nov. 30 harvest season.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

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