Medical associations ask governor to sign CBD-sales bills

RICHMOND — Days after a cannabis advocacy group urged Gov. Glenn Youngkin to amend legislation regulating CBD sales in Virginia, a consortium of medical professionals wants him to sign the bills just as they are, claiming the future of children’s health is put at stake if amendments are added. 

In a letter Thursday to the governor, four groups — the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Medical Society of Virginia, the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association — said their members are reporting surges in cases involving children who have ingested unregulated cannabidiol [CBD] and other hemp-related products. The group applauded what it called “common-sense provisions” in the legislation to ensure the products are properly managed. 

“These measures as approved by the General Assembly are critically important to public health and safety,” the letter read. “They are especially important to ensure the well-being of children, many of whom have been poisoned after accessing and ingesting unregulated delta-8-THC, delta-9-THC and other synthetic marijuana-like products.” 

The group also called “very disturbing” claims by the Virginia Cannabis Association that regulating the sales would essentially wipe out the industry along with millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of people out of work. 

“It is important to recognize that existing laws do not adequately prohibit the retail sale of unregulated products with intoxicating levels of [tetrahydrocannabinol]and other synthetic cannabinoids,” the letter stated. “These bills effectively close a loophole exploited by retail sellers and protect public health.” 

More:Cannabis industry advocates call for changes to bills regulating CBD sales in Virginia

The bills at the center of the debate would require all businesses in Virginia that sell industrial hemp extract or food containing that extract to have a permit from the state to do so. Each package only can include products with up to 0.3% of THC and two milligrams of straight-out THC. THC is the ingredient in hemp that causes the high feeling when using marijuana. 

THC and CBD are derived from the hemp plant. The amount of THC in CBD, which is often used in pain management, is not enough to get its user buzzed.   

The legislation also includes requirements on labeling of the products and their testing by a Drug Enforcement Administration-sanctioned third party to ensure quality. 

“Virginians should have confidence that the products permitted for retail sale are honestly and transparently labeled,” the letter stated. “Sellers who violate these common-sense provisions should face civil penalties, and [the bills] ensure that they will.” 

The letter was signed by Dr. Kristina Powell, president of the pediatrics academy; Clark Barrineau, a Medical Society assistant vice president; Dr. Todd Parker, president of the emergency physicians’ group; and VHHA president and CEO Sean Connaughton. 

Lawmakers return to the state Capitol April 12 for the reconvened session where they will act upon the governor’s amendments and vetoes. If Youngkin amends or vetoes the legislation, the Assembly has the opportunity to accept or reject his actions. 

Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is an award-winning journalist who covers breaking news, government and politics. Reach him at batkinson@progress-index.com or on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI. 

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