A federal judge in Northern Virginia rejected an effort to block a new Virginia law imposing stricter limits on hemp products that contain intoxicating amounts of THC. The initial opinion issued Monday denied a group of hemp businesses’ request for an injunction that would have prevented state officials from enforcing the law, meaning the new rules remain in place as the lawsuit moves forward.
The controversial bill approved earlier this year was aimed at cracking down on edibles and other products containing delta-8, a hemp-derived cannabis alternative that had become widely available in smoke shops across Virginia. The law came with stiff fines for retail businesses that continue to sell products that exceed total THC limits covering both natural and synthetic forms of the compound that gets cannabis users high.
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema indicated she was unconvinced by arguments Virginia had overstepped its authority to regulate hemp in a way that conflicted with federal law and interfered with interstate commerce.
“On this record, defendants have demonstrated that delta-8 THC is a credible threat to the Virginia population, and there is a strong public interest in protecting the citizens of the commonwealth from substances like delta-8, including a vulnerable population, such as children, from hospitalizations and poisonings,” Brinkema wrote in a 27-page opinion. “The decision to advance that interest was done by the elected policymakers of Virginia, and this court must defer to those political and social welfare judgments.”
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