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Hemp businesses sue Virginia over new THC limits

A group of hemp sellers in Virginia is taking legal action against a new state law, contending that it unlawfully prohibits hemp products that can be legally sold under a federal law passed in 2018. The state law, effective since July, imposes fresh regulations on the sale and packaging of hemp products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component found in marijuana.

Hemp, although less potent than marijuana, can be intoxicating when used in products containing a THC variant called Delta-8. Some retailers market these products in packaging that resembles candy wrappers or children’s snacks. The Virginia law aimed to address these concerns by imposing restrictions.

Attorney General Jason S. Miyares and Governor Glenn Youngkin, both Republicans, are named defendants in the lawsuit. They have issued public warnings about the risks of Delta-8 products to children. However, the hemp sellers and a consumer suing the state argue that the law goes too far by banning hemp products used for pain relief and sleep issues, conflicting with federal law.

Under the federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, hemp is defined as any part or derivative of cannabis “with a Delta-9 concentration of not more than 0.3 percent.” In contrast, Virginia’s law, as of July, defines “hemp products” and “industrial hemp extracts” more broadly, encompassing anything with a total THC concentration of up to 0.3 percent, including all THC variants, not just Delta-9.

The plaintiffs maintain that Congress should determine which types of THC fall within the limits states can set for regulating sales and argue that Congress has not addressed this issue.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for September 29 in Alexandria federal court.

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