RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s General Assembly has approved new hemp regulations, with revisions to identical bills from the House and Senate by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, addressing the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) permitted for cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products.

Amendments to HB 2294 and SB 903 were approved on Wednesday, April 12 during the one-day, annual “veto session.”

According to marijuana industry consumer organization Virginia State Cannabis, CBD does not produce the “high” that THC can.

“The primary distinction between marijuana and hemp is the quantity of CBD and THC in the plants; if the plant has above 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, it is classified as a marijuana plant,” Virginia State Cannabis said.

That percentage amount took a page from the U.S. Hemp Farming Act, which was signed into law in December 2018, declassifying hemp with a THC content of less than 0.3% as a Schedule I controlled substance. But Virginia NORML Executive Director JM Pedini said that there was a loophole in adopting that amount. This stems from the difference between 0.3% of a plant’s dry weight and 0.3% of a liquid, for example.

As amended, HB 2294 and SB 903 address that issue by placing a two-milligram limit of THC for CBD or hemp products in the Commonwealth, while also allowing for a 25:1 ratio.

“What they’re going to find is a much lower total THC in, call it, per serving or bottle, no matter what the product is, and a much higher CBD content because now, you have to put 25 milligrams of CBD into a product if you want to use one milligram of THC,” Virginia Cannabis Association President Jason Blanchette said. “We’ve got this infighting between trade organizations and different industry groups.”

Meanwhile, Pedini said that a typical dosage of medical cannabis in Virginia would have no more than 10 milligrams of THC. Thus, this 25:1 ratio could present a so-called loophole of its own, especially without the same regulations as cannabis. But Blanchette disagreed.

“There are going to be loopholes found. There always are, especially when it comes to a plant that contains hundreds of cannabinoids,” Blanchette said. “Someone could go to any number of their friends and get a joint, and it’s going to cost them a couple dollars, and we’re talking real marijuana now, right? Why would they spend $50 in a high-end CBD boutique to buy a tincture, just to get high and then swallow the entire $50 worth of product?”

HB 2294 and SB 903 make a number of other changes to hemp regulations in the Commonwealth. Once in effect, the measures will require a $1,000 fee for retail permits, and prohibit synthetics, such as Delta-8. With those amendments, Blanchette said consumers could see more than half of the products on store shelves in Virginia come down.

Moreover, the bills create “labeling, packaging, and testing requirements for industrial hemp extracts and foods containing an industrial hemp extract,” as well as “a civil penalty of $10,000” for sales without proper permitting and failure to adhere to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) regulations.

Youngkin’s press sectary provided the following statement to 8News:

The Governor’s amendment 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. Following feedback from parents whose children have experienced positive benefits from CBD products, the substitute 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.

Office of the Governor

Blanchette said it was a pseudo-win for Virginia’s hemp industry.

“The original bill was absolutely decimating,” he said. “We are all hemp growers, processors, we’ve been in the hemp industry since minute-one. We are really looking to engage in conversation about fixing all of this with a proper, again, safe and regulated adult-use cannabis market.”

HB 2294 and SB 903 each passed with slightly more than half of the legislative votes in their respective houses. The measures goes into effect on July 1.