HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Some Virginia businesses have been hit with massive fines for violating the state’s new law regarding the regulation of hemp and CBD products — and so far, two businesses in central Virginia have had to dish out thousands of dollars for non-compliance.
Documents obtained by 8News show Smoker’s World in Henrico County was fined $74,250 for multiple violations. A letter from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, stated an inspection was conducted in early August. It found that the store sold 40 edible hemp products that weren’t compliant with the law.
The store was found to be selling products with a THC concentration higher than 0.3%, as well as selling products in non child-proof packaging and selling edible CBD products that were in shapes that may appeal to kids. The store was also found non-compliant for not having the necessary permit to sell CBD products, among other violations.
On July 1, a law took effect meant to crack down on hemp-derived products that get people high, which had previously been largely unregulated in Virginia.
Governor Glenn Youngkin’s spokeswoman, Macaulay Porter, said in a statement that the legislation “continues his efforts to crack down on dangerous THC intoxicants, including synthetic products such as Delta 8.”
“In addition to the ban on synthetic THC, the limited percentage of total THC allowed, the packaging and labeling restrictions, the testing requirements, and the total per package limit for THC, the substitute also requires retailers to register with the enforcement agency to sell any consumable hemp derived product,” Porter said.
Hemp products in Virginia can’t have more than 0.3% concentration of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis that gives users a high.
The law also requires hemp products for sale in Virginia to have no more than two milligrams of THC per package unless they have 25 times the amount of CBD per package than the total THC.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound in cannabis that does not cause a high and is found in items such as food, oils, lotion and personal care products. People use CBD for anxiety, pain relief and other purposes.
Products need clear labels showing their ingredients, how much is in a single serving, the substance’s THC percentage and how many milligrams of THC are in each package and per serving. Each product must also have a certificate of analysis produced by an independent lab.
Hemp-derived products containing THC also need to be in child-resistant packaging.
Anna Gilliam-Abassi, the owner of Smoker’s World, said her store took a major hit as a result of thousands of dollars in fines.
“I ended up taking all of the products off the shelves, which is basically me losing thousands of dollars worth of product,” she said.
Gilliam-Abassi’s initial fine was reduced to $10,000 after she agreed to remove those products. The products her store can no longer sell made up about 30-40% of her revenue, she said.
She then appealed that amount — claiming she wasn’t aware of the changes to the law.
The price she ultimately paid for the fine was $7,500. Though she takes accountability for her store not being compliant, she believes Virginia’s stricter hemp law hinders small businesses.
“When it comes to these new Virginia laws, I’m not really sure who they’re benefitting — but they’re not benefitting the small business owner,” she said.
Tobacco Hut on Chamberlayne Road in Mechanicsville was fined $3,000 for selling products with synthetic THC, as well as selling edible CBD products that weren’t made by a manufacturer that has been inspected and whose products feature a certificate of analysis from a certified lab. A store representative hung up the phone when 8News reached out on Tuesday.