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.

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