Proposed bill causing headaches for local hemp businesses

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 8:11 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A piece of legislation making its way through the General Assembly would change the definition and regulation of hemp.

“They’re actually trying to redefine hemp and marijuana making hemp a lot more strict and harder to actually do business with from the growers to the processors, to the retailers, and ultimately even to the consumers,” Tanner Johnson, co-owner of Pure Shenandoah said. “This is going to make it very difficult to do business in Virginia.”

The legislation would lessen the amount of THC in CBD products. It would go against the federally regulated 0.3% THC in a product to just one milligram allowed in these products.

“There’s going to be a lot of issues with that from having to reformulate products, to farmers not being incentivized to not grow this crop in the first place,” Abner Johnson, co-owner of Pure Shenandoah said.

This legislation is trying to make hemp more strict, specifically, a product called Delta 8 THC. While this product is technically legal, the drug is psycho-active and falls under a gray area of the law.

“It’s providing people a lot of benefits in terms of nausea and pain management,” Johnson said. “But it does have psychoactive properties to it where now these legislators are looking at it and they’re seeing that it’s not properly tested, maybe not regulated properly, and for that reason, they’re trying to tighten up.”

As of now, Delta 8 is loosely regulated and can be bought just about anywhere.

“It’s not that this product is bad in itself it’s more that it’s not tested properly and structured in a way that can be presented to the market effectively,” Johnson said.

The bill will change how much hemp is allowed in each CBD product, making all the regulated products on small shop shelves now obsolete.

“Pure Shenandoah as a vertically integrated business, we actually deal in almost every aspect of the cannabis plant,” Johnson said. “We believe that it’s a pretty simple solution to a complex situation meaning all we need is proper testing, regulation, and structure so people who want to operate in this business are able to apply, they get awarded licenses and then most of these issues at hand will melt away.”

The Johnson family, who are the founders of Pure Shenandoah, are passionate about amending or killing this bill altogether as it will hurt businesses just like there’s.

“We actually had the pleasure of meeting with the Youngkin administration last Tuesday and really got to talk about the nitty-gritty of this bill and there were a lot of things that they were actually misguided on, a couple of the delegates completely misspoke on how Delta 8 is made and processed leading other legislators to think its actually a toxic substance which is just simply not the case,” Johnson said.

They are not only worried about their business but also about not being able to provide people who rely on these products to relieve different health conditions.

”Besides the consumers having to navigate these confusing waters, the retailers are actually gonna be the ones who are at the most disadvantage here. They’ve stocked up on products that work and come July 1st, they’re no longer going to be able to sell them,” Johnson said.

Obtaining a medical license to sell has been hard for many of these small businesses as there are many hoops to jump through, which is why they sell the Delta 8 products.

”A reason that Delta 8 even has its place in Virginia is due to the lack of structure in the THC market. There’s actually no recreational places and dispensaries to purchase products right now, but on the medical side, it’s very limited,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the most important aspect of Pure Shenandoah’s company is consumer safety above all else.

“The products that we sell are tested sometimes eight times before they get to a final consumer, but our products are safe, free of contaminants, and were very sure of that,” Abner Johnson said. “The issue is with the other products on the market being sold that aren’t tested, being imported from who knows really where, and then potentially in the hands of a child. There’s no regulations on labeling, there’s no regulations on packaging if it needs to be childproof or not.”

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