One month after Virginia’s new THC law took effect local hemp business says there have been pros and cons
ELKTON, Va. (WHSV) - Back on July 1, a new law went into effect in Virginia that banned the sale of any products with a THC content higher than 0.3%. A little over one month since the law took effect Pure Shenandoah in Elkton said the law has had pros and cons for the cannabis and hemp industries.
“We like to see both sides of every coin. The hemp laws weren’t passed so that THC and Marijuana could be sold under them so we understand that piece but our state has still been a little bit slow to get the medical program in our area going as well as the recreational program. So there’s just been this high demand for THC products that people want to consume and buy but they haven’t been able to, so that’s where this whole THC products sold under hemp came about,” said Abner Johnson who owns Pure Shenandoah with three of his brothers.
Pure Shenandoah has built a business that highlights all parts of the hemp plant and it sells products that have industrial, medicinal, and recreational uses. Because of the diversity of its products Johnson said that Pure Shenandoah hasn’t been hit as hard as some other businesses despite losing some sales.
“Our traffic has slowed down a little bit. Some of our natural food stores and things like that, they’re not bringing on as much product anymore because of these hoops they have to jump through so we definitely have seen our sales decline a little bit,” said Johnson.
Virginia’s hemp laws that were passed in 2014 and 2018 allowed for a certain amount of THC to be sold in a product. Virginia’s THC market sprung up through what was essentially a loophole in these laws because of the stalled rollout of the state’s legal marijuana programs.
“Long term this is probably a good thing our state will eventually have recreational marijuana and THC sold and that program is still being created. Tying up the loose ends in the hemp industry I think is a step in the right direction to have those,” said Johnson.
While the law change does create clarity for the industry Johnson said one problem with the new law is that is has taken some CBD products that contained minimal amounts of THC off the shelves.
“We did have a good amount of products that had 4 to 1 CBD to THC. So for example a gummy that’s got 20 milligrams of CBD and 5 milligrams of THC that’s been helping a lot of people with either sleep or pain aid and when you have them in this proportion of a lot more CBD than THC there aren’t any psychoactive affects,” said Johnson. “We’ve even had some customers come in in tears because they’re not able to get the same product that’s been helping them for such a long time especially when they’ve been looking for alternatives and things that haven’t been giving them side effects and stuff.”
Johnson said the law change has filtered out businesses that were only in the hemp and cannabis industries to sell THC products.
“The distributers and retailers, there certainly has been a handful of those businesses who have closed down and stopped selling because of these things. Now if you ask me it probably wasn’t the smartest decision to double down a lot on a business where you’re selling THC under hemp laws, that’s a little bit counter intuitive,” he said.
Another concern for Pure Shenandoah is that the new law has created more hoops to jump through for businesses that sell CBD products.
“If you want to sell CBD out of your store you have to fill a form out to be compliant to sell those products. Some of those additional hoops to jump through have caused some stores, natural food grocery stores, that would normally sell CBD, they’re pulling all of their products because they don’t want to go through the hoops,” said Johnson. “Some vape and tobacco stores have been fined up to $20,000 plus and that’s set some fear into a lot of these stores minds, as it should.”
Farmers who want to grow hemp are also having to jump through more hoops.
“A farmer right now if they want to grow just hemp for the stalk, no CBD, no THC, they still have to get their fingerprints checked and documented just to grow a plant for the stalk. So there’s a little bit too much red tape in the industry,” said Johnson.
Johnson said that the cannabis and hemp industries are moving in the right direction but businesses are hoping to see a more collective effort from the state and federal governments when it comes to Virginia’s marijuana rollout and potential legalization on the federal level.
“Polls have come out and over 50% of our country wants this to be legal so what’s really the hold up? I think it has a little bit more to do with these big corporations and the typical type of system we have built that is based around large corporations, more industrial commodities, and things like that,” he said. “Where we’re coming from is more of regional type of focus. We’re looking to help local farmers grow this and we’re looking for local manufacturers to work with us to bring on more products.”
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