Virginia hemp businesses start to see inspections and fines under new law

FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks to members of the press inside the Rotunda of the state Capitol building, Feb. 25, 2023, in Richmond, Va. Youngkin has proposed a rewrite of a bill that aimed to ban the recreational sales of intoxicating hemp-derived products, seeking to ensure the availability of certain therapeutic CBD formulations. Lawmakers will take up the measure, and dozens of others to which Youngkin is seeking amendments, during a one-day reconvened session Wednesday, April 12, at the Capitol. (AP Photo/John C. Clark, File)(AP/John C. Clark)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Businesses around Virginia are beginning to face fines from state regulators who say the retailers are out of compliance with laws restricting the sales of certain hemp products.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services began conducting inspections last month to ensure retailers were adhering to recent legislation that aimed to end the sales of intoxicating hemp-derived products.

As of early August, at least seven businesses had received noncompliance letters, The Virginian-Pilot reported Saturday. Violations stemmed from both this year’s legislation and a 2022 bill that prohibited the sale of THC products in shapes that might appeal to children or that mimic trademarked brands, according to the newspaper.

Among the stores facing a fine is Chesapeake Tobacco & Vape, which offered five edible hemp products that were not in compliance, according to a letter the department sent the shop July 31. The letter said the business also failed to submit a mandatory disclosure form and did not have a required permit.

The shop owner declined to comment to the newspaper.

Other stores facing fines include Paradise Vapes in Christiansburg, Discount Tobacco in Gate City, N2U and Cherry Hill Tobacco & Vape, both in Galax, and Tobacco World and Skyline Cigars & Vapes, both in Warrenton.

The hemp industry loudly opposed this year’s bill, saying it would further complicate Virginia’s cannabis laws. Advocates said it would boost consumer safety, pointing to kids and others who have been sickened from the products, which have proliferated in Virginia and around the country.

Savana Griffith, owner of The Hemp Spectrum in Virginia Beach, told the newspaper that while she disagreed with the new legislation, her business adjusted to meet the parameters.

She emptied out her shelves earlier this summer, started searching for new compliant products and opened a distribution center in North Carolina.

“Luckily with that (new center), and with bringing in some compliant edibles, we have been OK,” she said.

In a statement, Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s spokesperson, Macaulay Porter, said the new regulations were working as intended.

“The new hemp law takes critical steps to strengthen consumer safety and regulations around edible and inhaled hemp-derived products as well as delta-8 THC products,” Porter told The Pilot.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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