Lawsuit challenges Virginia’s new hemp-product restrictions

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Two hemp businesses and a consumer filed a lawsuit in Virginia federal court contending the state’s new restrictions on low-THC, hemp-derived products is causing financial harm to hemp companies and inhibiting interstate commerce.

The lawsuit by hemp-product retailer Northern Virginia Hemp and Agriculture, North Carolina-based grower and distributor Franny’s Operations and consumer Rose Lane argues the new regulations will cause “millions of dollars of irreparable harm” while banning products that were recently legal exacerbates “potential health problems to thousands of Virginians,” the Virginia Mercury reported.

Virginia’s new law regulating hemp-derived products took effect July 1. The new rules include

  • A 0.3% limit on THC in hemp products.
  • Limits on the total amount of THC per package, dependent on CBD content.
  • A requirement for hemp-product manufacturers and sellers to submit disclosure forms.
  • Child-resistant packaging rules for THC-containing products.
  • Labeling requirements.

Hemp industry insiders feared the new rules, including THC caps and mandating products with CBD-THC ratios of at least 25-to-1, would outlaw most of their inventory.

Travis Lane, owner of Marshall-based Northern Virginia Hemp and Agriculture, told the Mercury the new law eliminated 90% of his business, and nearly all the company’s products manufactured before July 1 are now banned.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, also contends the state’s new statute conflicts with federal law, particularly the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.

That’s because the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived products with 0.3% THC or less, triggering the nationwide boom in delta-8 THC and other intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids.

The lawsuit also challenges a provision of the law prohibiting hemp processors from selling industrial hemp to anyone in or outside Virginia if the seller believes it will be used to surpass the state’s 0.3% THC limits.

Virginia authorities are already cracking down on stores selling unauthorized hemp-derived products under the new law and handing out significant fines in the enforcement push.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued at least five noncompliance letters to businesses as of late July, with fines ranging from $13,000 to $97,500.