The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (“VDACS”) Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh sent a letter (the “July Letter”) to all Virginia-registered Industrial Hemp Processors (“Processors”) on July 15, 2019 notifying the Processors that Governor Northam’s office has directed VDACS to “treat hemp-derived extracts intended for human consumption as approved food additives and to place qualifying Registered Industrial Hemp Processors under food safety inspection so that inspected and approved processors may manufacture a hemp-derived extract for human consumption.”
On December 12, 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill (The “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018” or the “Bill”), which includes provisions that exempt Cannabis plants with lower than 0.3% THC content (also called “Hemp”) from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Once signed into law, the Farm Bill effectively legalizes the production, commercialization, and interstate shipment and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products like cannabidiol or “CBD”. Each state (including Indian Tribes and U.S. Territories) will eventually be able to regulate hemp production like any other agricultural commodity, as long as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves its plan to monitor and regulate the plant’s production.
On February 21, the Virginia House of Delegates voted 99-0 (1 abstention) to approve HB 1251, a bill that will dramatically expand the state’s medical cannabis laws. The bill was sent to Governor Ralph Northam for signature and – thanks to an emergency clause recommended by the Governor himself – will be effective immediately once he signs. With this bill, doctors will now be able to recommend the use of medical cannabis oil to patients with any diagnosed condition or disease that the doctor determines will benefit from such use.