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Legislation to crack down on marijuana products, including synthetics, heads to Youngkin

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: Mar. 19, 2022 at 11:09 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. -The General Assembly failed at finding a path to starting recreational marijuana sales this year, but a law outlining stricter regulations for retailers selling what one lawmaker called “juiced-up” synthetic products made its way through the legislature last week with bipartisan support.

The bill, which is now before Gov. Glenn Youngkin, explicitly bans sales of any substance that contains more than 0.3 percent or .25 milligrams of THC per serving or more than one milligram per package. The measurements would apply to any naturally occurring or synthetic version of THC such as delta-8, the popular synthetic substitute made from industrial hemp that producers claim is legal.

“This product is dangerous because people don’t understand the impact, the safety issues,”  said Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, who introduced the legislation.

Since the personal possession and home cultivation of marijuana became legal in the commonwealth last year, but not commercial recreational sales of the drug, which is currently restricted to licensed medical dispensaries, have led to a wide variety of products that may or may not be legal being sold in retail outlets. As reported by The Mercury last month, gas stations, health food stores and marijuana retailers sold mislabeled products that contained illegal amounts of delta-9 THC marketed as the supposedly legal delta-8 counterpart. Wrangling between the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate this year failed to produce a solution for legalizing recreational sales.

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

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