State officials in Virginia have warned businesses not to sell products like
Last month, the Virginia General Assembly passed a state budget bill that included regulations for the packaging and lab testing of products containing THC derived from hemp and age restrictions to purchase them. Although the budget bill gives Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) the authority to “regulate hemp products intended for human consumption,” the legislation does not ban such products. But on June 30, the day before the bill went into effect, the VDACS and the Office of the Attorney General
“The VDACS regulatory response to chemically-synthesized cannabinoids in foods and beverages is to educate food manufacturers and retail food establishments of the law and encourage voluntary compliance,” Joseph Guthrie, VDACS Commissioner, said in a statement. “Once regulatory options are exhausted, the case could be referred to a Commonwealth’s Attorney for further enforcement.”
Advisory a ‘Head-Scratcher’
Representatives of the hemp industry say they believed selling Delta-8 THC edibles would be legal as long as the new regulations were followed. As a result, the June 30 announcement from state officials came as a surprise to many.
“It’s somewhat of a head scratcher,” Dylan Bishop, a lobbyist who represents a coalition of hemp industry producers and retailers,
The notice advised companies that produce cannabis products containing hemp extract with less than 0.3 percent THC to follow rules governing their packaging and restricting purchases of such products to adults 21 and older. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares also warned companies to avoid the popular practice of labeling THC products to resemble the packaging of popular consumer goods, adding that such copycat merchandise can jeopardize the health of consumers including children.
“As THC-infused edibles become commonplace, some distributors have started advertising their products to look like popular candy and snack items,” said Miyares. “Their deceiving appearance and packaging can confuse young children who come across them and have led to an increase in accidental consumption, putting their health at risk. I look forward to collaborating with VDACS to address this growing issue.”
Anthony Gregory, the owner of The Dispensary in Richmond, said that he and other businesses are not breaking any laws by selling products with Delta-8 THC. He said that his customers buy the products to help them with pain, anxiety and problems sleeping.
“I would hope that the state of Virginia would let adults be adults,” he said.
Gregory noted that the products he sells have all been lab tested and offered to share the results with anyone who asks to see them.
“I do not sell to minors. I only sell to people 21 years and up,” Gregory said. “I’m inviting anybody, and I mean anybody, from the government from Virginia to come in and look at our shop. Then, I feel like as a business owner you should, kind of just, let me be.”
Virginia Budget Also Rolls Back Cannabis Legalization
Virginia’s budget bill also included provisions to recriminalize cannabis, which was legalized for recreational use by the General Assembly last year. Under the budget bill, possession of more than four ounces of marijuana will once again be against the law. Possession of more than four ounces but less than one pound of cannabis will be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
JM Pedini, the development director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the executive director of the group’s Virginia chapter, said that the recriminalization of marijuana is not consistent with a pledge by Gov. Glenn Youngkin not to repeal marijuana policy reform during last year’s campaign for office.
“Governor Youngkin’s actions are in direct conflict with his campaign promise to not roll back legalization and they are out of touch with the opinions of the majority of Virginians,”
“This administration has made no effort to establish a legal adult-use cannabis market or to ensure that all cannabis products sold in the Commonwealth are accurately labeled and regulated for consumer safety,” added Pedini.