Judge rejects challenge to Virginia’s hemp-product restrictions

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Virginia’s controversial new regulations for hemp-derived products – including an outright ban on intoxicating products containing delta-8 THC – will remain in place for now after a federal judge rejected an initial plea from hemp companies to intervene.

Two hemp businesses and a consumer filed suit in federal court in September challenging rules governing hemp-derived products signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The rules went into effect July 1.

Virginia’s hemp regulations now include a 0.3% THC limit for hemp-derived products, limits on total THC as well as a CBD-THC ratio of at least 25-to-1.

That renders nearly all intoxicating delta-8 THC products illegal, though online sales continue.

Retailer Northern Virginia Hemp and Agriculture claimed that it has lost 90% of its business under the new rules, and North Carolina-based Franny’s Farmacy says it’s now banned from shipping products through Virginia to other states.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that the new rules violate U.S. Constitution protections on interstate commerce and are causing “millions of dollars of irreparable harm.”

The lawsuit asked for a judge to impose a preliminary injunction suspending the new law while the lawsuit played out.

In an initial opinion issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected that ask, saying instead that Virginia has “demonstrated that delta-8 THC is a credible threat to the Virginia population.”

The 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production nationwide, does not prohibit states from passing their own laws regulating or restricting hemp-derived products, she wrote.

An Oct. 17 motion to dismiss the entire action filed by the Virginia attorney general is still pending.