Yesterday, the Virginia Hemp Task Force – a statutorily-created commission of leading state government officials – shared a draft report with recommendations for ensuring the safe and responsible manufacture and sale of hemp extracts and other substances containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) intended for human consumption. The report weighs heavily on comments provided by U.S. Hemp Roundtable General Counsel, Jonathan Miller, who testified to the Task Force during its second meeting on August 9th.
According to the report, the biggest topic of debate and the toughest question for members of the General Assembly to answer is where to draw the proverbial line in regards to which products should be considered hemp, and which adult-use cannabis. The author, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Matthew J. Lohr, wrote in response:
I believe members of the General Assembly would be wise to consider the advice offered by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, which prides themselves as being the “hemp industry’s leading national advocacy organization…stated that “We want to draw a real distinction here between non-intoxicating hemp and intoxicating products.” Mr. Miller further testified that he advocated for the 2014 and 2018 federal Farm Bill and shared during that process “the underlying theme was that hemp was non-intoxicating and that marijuana and adult use cannabis was intoxicating.”…The U.S. Hemp Roundtable also offered that “intoxicating cannabis-derived products should only be sold via adult-use cannabis channels, while non-intoxicating cannabis-derived products should not be subject to age restriction.” Mr. Miller advised that the U.S. Hemp Roundtable “recommends a state-led commission to study cannabis-derived products to identify appropriate standards for evaluating whether a product is intoxicating rather than regulating all products with any amount of THC in the same way."
The Task Force draft report made a series of recommendations based on their comprehensive hearings:
- Requiring a permit to sell edible and inhalable hemp products.
- Implementing a “more robust regulatory structure” for edible and inhalable hemp products that includes “product standards, batch testing, and sampling by the regulatory agency.”
- Strengthening of existing civil penalties for manufacturing or selling edible hemp products that do not comply with Virginia’s Food and Drink Law
- Giving the Virginia Department of Health authority to address the sale of edible hemp products or other THC-containing substances in restaurants
- Creating “a coordinated regulatory and enforcement structure” for regulating “all sectors of Virginia’s cannabis industry, including those producing and selling currently unregulated inhaled hemp products.”
- Assessing a product’s legality using its total THC concentration
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is reviewing these recommendations and working on a comprehensive response to this draft report, but is pleased that the Task Force is taking such a careful, considerate approach to the regulation of intoxicating hemp-derived compounds and that industry concerns are being heard. We look forward to continuing a close working relationship with the task force and to helping support the VA General Assembly move forward with solutions in the next session.
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