Hemp retailers start seeing big fines as Virginia’s tougher THC law takes effect
Several Virginia businesses have been hit with five-figure fines this month as state officials start enforcing stricter new rules on the contents and labeling of hemp products to try to crack down on alternatives to marijuana.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had sent five non-compliance letters as of July 24, assessing penalties ranging from $13,000 to $97,500, according to the agency. The letters, sent under a new civil penalty structure that took effect July 1, give the business owners an opportunity to pay a reduced fine of $10,000 if they agree to bring their stores into compliance and meet other conditions.
The largest fine so far was sent to a store in Southwest Virginia’s Gate City called Tobacco Discount. Of 36 impermissible products that VDACS inspectors said they found, 27 had a concentration of intoxicating THC above the 0.3% legal limit, agency records show. Others contained synthetic forms of THC or had labels that bore a “significant likeness” to mainstream snack brands, particularly cereal bars with names like “Lucky Marshmellow” and “Berry Crunch.” Many of the products tested were gummies and cereal bars labeled as containing delta-8, a hemp-derived compound that can produce a high similar to marijuana.
Inspectors reported finding a total of 26 violations at the business, ranging from paperwork, labeling and ingredient problems to “a heavy accumulation of dead insects and insect fragments” in some areas of the store.The total fines assessed on the business added up to $97,500.
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