Virginia poised to ban delta-8 THC, put tight restrictions on CBD

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Virginia hemp stakeholders have failed in their attempts to sideline a bill that bans delta-8 THC, and sets strict limits on total THC levels in hemp food products. Both houses of the state legislature have now approved Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s revised version of the bill, which only awaits his signature.

The hemp measure, Senate Bill 903 (SB 903), grew mainly out of lawmakers’ concerns over the proliferation of products containing delta-8 THC, a synthetic compound derived from hemp-based CBD which has proven a popular alternative to marijuana in Virginia and across the U.S.

But stakeholders said restrictions on food products in the bill will also make most full-spectrum CBD products illegal in the state and deprive parents of remedies that have helped their epileptic children.

Major hit

“The Virginia hemp industry will lose jobs, innovation and business development because of this bill,” Jason Amatucci, president of the Virginia Hemp Coalition (VHC), told the Virginia Mercury “Hemp consumers that rely on hemp products will have greatly reduced choices due to this bill.”

In targeting delta-8, the key provision in the bill makes it unlawful under the Consumer Protection Act to sell or offer for sale any substance intended for human consumption that contains a synthetic derivative of THC.

Delta-8 products, which have rapidly grown in popularity, have reportedly sickened unsuspecting children and adults. Proponents of the restrictions said the products – in the form of vapes, edibles and other products – are sometimes sold in packaging attractive to youth that mimic well-known brands.

A Virginia boy’s death last year was attributed to over-ingestion of delta-8 from eating gummies, leading to felony murder and felony child neglect charges against his mother. The death was officially ruled an accident attributable to “delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol toxicity” by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Central District of Virginia, although some cannabis experts have cast doubt on that conclusion.

THC limits for food

While VHC did not address the matter of the delta-8 THC ban, it criticized a provision that sets the total THC barrier for food products at a ratio for CBD to THC of 25/1. Stakeholders had pushed Youngkin to reset the limit at a 10/1 ratio.

The new law also sets a fine of up to $10,000 per day for sales of illegal CBD products, and requires that makers of topical products add a bittering agent to their formulas, presumably to keep consumers from eating them.

Also, any business intending to sell hemp products must pay a $1,000 registration fee, which will “keep folks from setting up pop-up shops and things of that nature,” said House of Delegates Majority Leader Terry Kilgore, a Republican from Scott who sponsored the bill .

Effective July 1

The law would take effect July 1, at which point oversight of registration to operate retail outlets, and packaging, labeling and testing requirements would transfer from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority.

Lawmakers said they will fund an enlarged team of inspectors to monitor production of cannabis products being sold in Virginia’s many smoke shops and convenience stores.

Possession and home cultivation of marijuana became legal in Virginia in 2021. But marijuana sales in the state are restricted to licensed medical dispensaries.

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