Virginia Governor Proposes Changes to Hemp Bill To Keep CBD Products Legal

By | Updated on May 17, 2023

Evidence Based 6

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has proposed changes to pending legislation to protect non-intoxicating CBD products from strict regulations on the sale of delta-8 THC and other hemp-derived intoxicating products.

The governor suggests removing products with a 25-to-1 ratio of CBD to THC from the new regulations after significant pushback to a proposed rule limiting hemp products to THC to 2 milligrams per package. The pushback is not surprising since that limit would make many if not most full-spectrum CBD products illegal.

Youngkin also suggested removing a rule that would have required the addition of “bittering agents” to topical CBD products like balms and creams, another excessive requirement. The governor proposed his changes as a substitute bill, which is usually done when substantial amendments are needed. 

The amended bill reiterates that any business selling edible or smokable hemp products covered under the proposed rules would have to pay a $1,000 fee to register with the state and face fines of up to $10,000 per day for selling unlawful or mislabeled products. 

The substitute bill comes in response to criticism and suggestions from the state’s CBD industry as well as people who use CBD products therapeutically. 

In the words of the governor’s spokeswoman Macaulay Porter:

Following feedback from parents whose children have experienced positive benefits from CBD products, the substitute [bill] also includes a narrowly tailored exemption clarifying that the legislation will not outlaw those therapeutic products…Governor Youngkin’s substitute takes into account these critically necessary products while going even further to clear store shelves of illegal products responsible for sending children to the hospital.

Gov. Youngkin spokeswoman

The Virginia Cannabis Association, a lobbying group representing the state’s hemp industry, supports Youngkin’s amendments. According to one of its lobbyists, the changes “save” full-spectrum CBD products from the strict new regulations and strike a “pretty good balance” between “achieving their public safety and public health goals while doing as little harm to the hemp industry as possible.”

Youngkin’s substitute bill will be discussed by the Virginia General Assembly on April 12.

The initial bill (HB 2294) was created after months of consideration by state lawmakers on how to crack down on unregulated hemp-derived intoxicating products like delta-8 THC. The lawmakers decided to make delta-8 THC illegal in Virginia due to concerns over public safety after increasing emergency room visits and poison control calls linked to the products.

It’s also possible that lawmakers want to ban delta-8 THC to protect the state’s regulated cannabis industry. Virginia legalized adult-use marijuana in 2021 but efforts to open dispensaries in 2024 continue to stall.

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