Legislative Update – Week 5

CannaBizVA Members:

This week, CannaBizVA finds new markets for Virginia’s hemp farmers and helps broker a deal to expand medical cannabis in Virginia. See below for details and a full report.

HB 1670 would allow Virginia’s pharmaceutical processors to buy industrial hemp from registered Virginia growers and processers, providing another well-needed market for our products. CannaBizVA fought off opposition in committee this week and helped usher this bill to a 100-0 vote on the House floor today! Video of committee testimony attached below.

HB 347, which would double the number of pharmaceutical processors in the state and allow for numerous satellite dispensaries, will not take effect this year. Instead, this concept will be studied in the off-season. However, we worked with the Patron and the processors to strike a deal: the Commonwealth will double the number of pharmaceutical processors in Virginia in 2021, assuming we can get a bill through in the 2021 session that would allow for the sale and use of medical grade flower in the state. The Board of Pharmacy would go through a brand new round of applications to effect this compromise. CannaBizVA was the only non-processor privy to this information!

Legislative Update – Week 4

The most important piece of information from this week at the General Assembly was that HB347 reported out of its subcommittee 5-0. This legislation would double the number of medical cannabis providers from 5 to 10. The bill would also allow each provider to have 2 off-site dispensing facilities. It will move along in the legislative process to be heard by the full House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee next week.

Legislative Update – Week 3

CannaBizVA Members:

Hemp and marijuana bills were heard in various subcommittees and committees for the first time this week. CannaBizVA was present at each of these hearings and testified either in favor or in opposition to certain key bills in line with the legislative agenda approved by our Board.

As you probably heard in the news, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Criminal Law Subcommittee reported SB2, a bill that decriminalizes simple possession of marijuana, to the full Committee, where it will likely be heard in the next week or two. While this bill certainly excited the press, it has minimal impact to cannabis-related business interests in Virginia.

More importantly, however, the House Agriculture Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee heard seven hemp-related bills Wednesday the 22nd. CannaBizVA testified in favor of HB491, which requires the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority to develop and report a marketing plan for industrial by November 30th of this year. The bill reported out of the subcommittee with unanimous support.

Similarly, CannaBizVA backed the Northam Administration’s proposal (HB1430) that would approve industrial hemp extract as an approved food in Virginia. This, too, passed with unanimous support.

CannaBizVA, along with other agri-business groups, spoke in opposition to HB1317, which would’ve prohibited hemp farmers from growing within 100 yards of a residential area, and successfully had the bill defeated by a 4-3 vote. There was also a bill (HB943) that would require hemp growers test for THC after harvest. Because of the feedback our lobbying team received from CannaBizVA members with concerns over this bill, CannaBizVA spoke against the measure and the bill was defeated unanimously.

And, finally, the bill (HB1566) that sought to raise the maximum THC allowance to 1% was carried over to the 2021 session with the concession that VDACS study the issue more closely in the offseason. The reason the bill did not pass is because VDACS testified that the USDA had denied the state industrial hemp plans for states that had enacted similar legislation. The bill was carried over in hopes that USDA might change course by this time next year.

A full reporting on all the bills we are watching for CannaBizVA is attached below.

Legislative Update – Week 1

The Virginia General Assembly convened Wednesday, January 8, and is scheduled to be in session until March 7. Over 2,500 bills have been filed to date, and another thousand are likely to drop before the filing deadline this coming Friday, January 17. Attached, you will find a full list of the bills that have been filed thus far that are germane to CannaBizVA’s mission. Click below to download.

VA Congressional Delegation Urges USDA to Reconsider Sampling/Testing Aspects of Interim Final Rule

Virginia’s hemp industry has secured the support of Virginia’s entire Congressional delegation with regard to the USDA’s interim final rule governing the commercial production of hemp. Specifically, every single Congressman and woman signed a letter urging USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to reconsider certain elements of the sampling and testing standards of the interim final rule. In summary, they recommended:

  1. Taking a calculated-risk and hazard approach to sampling and testing, as opposed to requiring that every single crop be tested;
  2. Extending the testing timeline to 30 days before harvest, as opposed to 15;
  3. Allowing testing to be conducted at independent testing labs (in addition to DEA registered labs);
  4. Raising the maximum THC allowance from 0.5% to the highest possible level USDA can muster; and
  5. Adding mediation options so that farmers acting in good faith who accidentally exceeded the threshold can resolve the issue without fear of criminal prosecution.

Please feel free to use this letter as your exemplar when submitting comments to the USDA if you haven’t already. You can submit comments HERE.

CannaBizVA’s 2nd Annual Legislative Panel