Virginia stakeholders push back against law targeting delta-8 THC

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The Virginia Hemp Coalition (VHC) is urging the state’s governor to veto or amend a bill they say would unnecessarily criminalize hemp products.

The measure, SB 591 would crack down on delta-8 THC, the popular synthetic form of THC made from hemp-derived CBD, by defining THC as “any naturally occurring or synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol, including its salts, isomers, or salts of isomers,” and setting super low THC limits for hemp products.

Delta-8 THC is made by extracting CBD from industrial hemp and turning it into THC through a process of synthesis. It differs from the more common delta-9 THC which occurs in marijuana plants.

‘Misguided language’

In a joint letter sent to Gov. Glenn Youngkin last week, VHC and the U.S. Hemp Roundtable suggested the measure’s “misguided language would actually criminalize the retail sale of most common, non-intoxicating hemp products such as CBD.”

VHC focused specifically on a provision that would define “marijuana” as any substance containing a total THC concentration above 0.3 percent, more than 0.25 milligrams per serving, or more than 1.0 milligrams in individual sales units.

“The overwhelming majority of nonintoxicating hemp extract products contain more than 0.25 mg of THC per serving and/or 1 mg of THC per package,” VHC noted in the letter. “Common full-spectrum hemp extract products contain 1-2 mg of THC per serving – much higher than the limits in SB 591, but very unlikely to cause intoxication or to be misused for their THC content.

“That’s why no other state in the country has enacted laws or regulations as restrictive as SB 591,” according to the letter.

Millions at stake

“If SB 591 is signed into law, the entire Virginia hemp industry, from farmers to processors to sellers, will be faced with new restrictions that no other state has imposed, placing Virginia businesses at a significant competitive advantage in what has been a national hemp economy since 2018,” the letter warns. “Financial damage to the businesses producing and selling these products, which comply with both the 2018 Farm Bill and current state hemp regulations, will likely be in the millions of dollars and will impact the vast majority of hemp product retailers in the Commonwealth.”

The letter urges Youngkin to veto SB 591 and form a study group among scientists, regulators, farmers and other stakeholders to develop more reasonable rules similar to those that have been adopted in other states.

Possession and home cultivation of marijuana became legal in Virginia last year. But marijuana sales in the state are restricted to licensed medical dispensaries. Meanwhile, gaps in the law have led to flourishing sales of delta-8 products. Reports have suggested that Virginia gas stations, health food stores and marijuana retailers have been selling mislabeled products that contain illegal amounts of delta-9 THC marketed as “legal” delta-8 products.

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