Virginia hemp industry concerned pending legislation will put them out of business

Packing up order after order, those at Hanover Hemp, LLC now have a growing worry about the future of the business.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 2:12 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Packing up order after order, those at Hanover Hemp, LLC now have a growing worry about the future of the business.

“We’re scared honestly. We have put a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears and a lot of money into this operation and you know we’re in our fourth year and yeah, it’s just going to completely wipe us out,” said Jonathan Flagg, Hanover Hemp’s owner.

On the governor’s desk right now is a measure that will require all businesses selling an industrial hemp extract or food containing it to have a valid permit from the state. And those products can only contain up to 0.3% THC and two milligrams of THC per package, according to the proposed law.

“Which is extremely low, and you cannot grow and produce organic hemp extract at that low THC amount, so it will unfortunately make 100% of our products illegal,” said Flagg.

The move is being called a first step toward cracking down on a largely unregulated market, which created safety and consumer protection issues.

“There are so many reputable good companies in the commonwealth that are doing what we do now and we are all being punished for stuff that isn’t anything that we’ve done. There are bad products out there there does need to be regulation,” said Joseph Kuhn, founder and CEO of Albemarle Cannabis Company.

New labeling rules would require clearer disclosure of what’s in each product, including the percentage and milligrams of THC per package and per serving. They would also prohibit any products from being marketed as curing, treating or preventing disease.

Violations of the proposed regulations could lead to fines of up to $10,000 per day.

“Right now, we’re put into this holding pattern where we can’t make any decisions on any events past July. Just due to the fact that we might not be in business at that point,” said John Howard, Albemarle Cannabis Company’s operations manager.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Gov. Glenn Youngkin released the following statement: “The Governor has made cracking down on dangerous THC intoxicants, including those synthesized from hemp, a priority to protect public safety. The conference report for HB2294 and SB903 does that. The final text of the bill is in review and the Administration is meeting with stakeholders. The Governor looks forward to the enhanced enforcement this will bring to keep dangerous intoxicants off the shelves and away from Virginia children.”