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Marijuana is still illegal to sell in Va., but that’s not stopping retailers (including a senator)

A cereal bar infused with THC purchased from a cannabis dispensary co-owned by Sen. Louise...
A cereal bar infused with THC purchased from a cannabis dispensary co-owned by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth. The store, the Cannabis Outlet, sells the products for $30.(Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 3:23 PM EST
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The Lucky Charms cereal bars for sale at Sen. Louise Lucas’ cannabis shop in Portsmouth feature a stoned cartoon leprechaun and a warning that it “contains cannabis, a Schedule 1 controlled substance.”

The label, it turns out, is only partially accurate.

Lab testing shows the marshmallow treat does contain delta-9 THC — the main intoxicating ingredient in pot — which remains illegal to sell in Virginia even after lawmakers legalized marijuana possession last year.

But the packaging overstated the bar’s potency, suggesting it contained 600 milligrams of total THC while the lab test showed just under 30 milligrams.

Both issues — the mislabeled product and the presence of a controlled substance — are typical of the black and gray market for retail marijuana that has exploded in Virginia since lawmakers legalized possession of the drug but not sales.

The resulting demand for marijuana products has presented an opportunity for entrepreneurs willing to take a risk, but left customers with little assurances as to the quality and contents of the mostly-synthetic THC products that have been popping up in gas stations, health food stores and dedicated retail outlets like the one co-owned by Lucas, who as president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate is the most powerful elected Democrat in state government.

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The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy

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