ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Virginia was among the first in the nation to effectively ban hemp products with any amount of THC that can get people high. Now, hemp farmers and businesses are fighting back with a federal lawsuit. They say the ban hurts small business and patients who rely on hemp products for pain relief.
A 2018 federal law allowed hemp to be grown, chemically altered and turned into products containing THC, which is the compound, also found in cannabis, that can get you high.
"About 90% of our products became illegal as of July 1," said Nova Hemp owner Travis Lane.
That's because the Virginia General Assembly passed SB903, a law supported by Attorney General Jason Miyares making it illegal to sell any hemp products with more than a trace amount of THC. A hemp industry and user coalition decided to sue. The lawsuit was filed by Virginia law firm Croessmann & Westberg.
"The first plaintiff is Rose Lane, who is an 83-year-old woman -- she relies on hemp products for pain relief, forgoing prescription meds that don't work as well and also have bad side effects," added Lane.
There is no consensus of medical studies showing health benefits of the common Hemp THC product "Delta-8."
Gov. Glenn Youngkin's office "declined to comment on ongoing litigation."
In a previous interview with WUSA9, Miyares explained his reason for advocating for the ban: "There were new measures put forward to the General Assembly that strike this, that really clamped down on this, where it said listen, you can't market these that look like they'd be marketed for children or products that are clearly aimed at children that become copycat THCs. So our first step is any shop that's looking at trying to sell these, we send them a notice and Consumer Protection notice to cut it out."
Lane and other hemp farmers and sellers plan to make their stand in Virginia, rather than move away.
"I was thinking of having to move into DC myself. And I kind of pulled back on moving into DC because I figured that standing up and fighting for this year and my homeland was going to be worth it just to keep all of the customers that are in rural Virginia, you know, filled with their needs."
A recent federal lawsuit in Arkansas succeeded in pausing part of that state's ban of THC in hemp.