Virginia Attorney General cracks down on hemp producers, forcing hemp companies to move south.
Residents in Hillsville, VA will no longer be able to purchase delta 8 and other hemp products as a result of recent changes made by the state’s Attorney General Jason Miyares. Despite Delta-8 THC as being federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, the rise in cannabis poisoning by children has caused the Attorney General to raise his own concerns, calling for an abrupt halt on delta 8 sales. This decision has made local hemp companies reconsider their current operations in Virginia, saying they will have to move their business and jobs to other states if customers disappear.
People who grew up in Hillsville will tell you that despite the land being rich in resources, the town is of little income. One Hillsville native Travis Wagoner hoped to turn the town’s fortune. By growing hemp, he found a way to turn the riches of the land into profits. Now the owner of Virginia Cultivars, Wagoner faces the challenge of laying off employees after being cut off from the successful venture.
“We went from having 17 employees working 50 hours a week to less than 10 employees working 30 hours a week,” said Wagoner.
From their one acre hemp farm, Virginia Cultivars is able to commercially extract CBD from the low THC hemp plant, a non-psychoactive compound, and convert it into psychoactive Delta-8 THC. Delta 8 is a federally legal compound that gets you high, but is naturally found in low amounts in hemp and marijuana. These amounts are so low, that the chemical conversion of delta 8 oil from other cannabinoid compounds is necessary in order to sell delta 8 products on a large scale.
The delta 8 oil is infused into edible products such as gummies or candies, but are intended for adult use. Many companies who seek to remain for the long run make sure their products are explicit in their warnings. Other companies looking to make a quick buck on the other hand, may not take the necessary precautions to make sure their packaging is contains obvious warnings and are unappealing to children.
“What we now see is an explosion of products that look very normal. They’d look like anything else you’d see at a grocery store,” said Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.
After Virginia’s legalization of delta 8 edibles, the state later passed the Virginia Food and Drink Act, which allows the Attorney General to ban sales and distribute fines. Miyares hopes to end the production of deceptive packaging towards children in the state, and interprets the Virginia Food and Drink Act as a means of doing so.
Medical practitioners like Dr. Christopher Holstege, leader of UVA’s poison control center, argues that there is a lack of research behind delta 8.
“So what we’ve seen with adults is things such as anxiety, seeing reality differently. rapid heart rate, blood pressures increasing,” Holstege said.
However, 74 year old Gene Linton, a resident near Hillsville who suffers from arthritis, claims delta 8 as being more effective than pharmaceutical drugs. By taking one delta-8 THC infused gummy daily, Linton is able to half his pain and tension within 30 to 40 minutes.
Wagoner argues that the Attorney General reconsider his actions, claiming his locally produced delta 8 products contain ingredients and warnings on the labels, and that his products are being wrongfully grouped with other companies that have lower standards.
Another hemp entrepreneur, KC Honaker, raises their concerns over the issue.
“I think it’s good that the state’s looking at policies to protect the citizens and take care of those folks out there. But I think they should go out and talk to some of these manufacturers and really find out what’s in the products and what they do for people before they make the choice to get rid of them,” said Honaker.
While the state of Virginia imposes heavy fines on hemp companies distributing delta-8 infused goods, Virginia hemp brands are looking to move their businesses to neighboring states like North Carolina and Tennessee in order to keep up sales.