Virginia lawmakers buck governor on delta-8 THC ban, smokable hemp

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Last-minute political sparring over marijuana crimes appears to have prevented new limits on the cannabis industry in Virginia.

State lawmakers this week used a legislative maneuver to reject a wide-ranging cannabis bill they’d earlier sent to Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The measure would have banned delta-8 THC products by removing any mention of “delta-9,” a change that would have prevented hemp operators from selling intoxicating THC isomers such as delta-8 THC outside marijuana sales channels.

The bill also limited smokable-hemp sales to people older than 21 and the types of hemp edibles that could be sold.

Problems arose when the governor asked for some additional changes to the bill: He wanted an explicit ban on delta-8 THC and upgrades to criminal penalties for adults possessing 2 ounces of marijuana.

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Marijuana activists such as Virginia NORML took issue with the criminal penalties for marijuana possession, pointing out that the state legalized recreational marijuana last year.

Lawmakers who were called back to consider the changes voted to shelve the entire bill until 2023. However, certain provisions of the cannabis measure could be revived through a still-pending budget measure.

Virginia’s commercial marijuana market isn’t expected to launch until 2024.