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Delta-8 THC ban leaves Suffolk manufacturer with $1M worth of unusable inventory, many questions

delta 8 THC
Posted at 7:14 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 11:02:34-04

SUFFOLK, Va. – A new ban went into effect at the start of the month, impacting sales of a type of THC called Delta-8.

In Virginia, it is now illegal to sell consumable products, such as edibles and drinks, that have the chemical. The ban comes as a surprise to some retailers and customers.

Brandon Clark runs his own business called Clark + Hopkins. He says he turned to Delta-8 THC months ago to help him manage his stress and pain.

“It can be very stressful day-to-day,” Clark said. “I use the application on my neck, my knees and my lower back.”

Delta-8 is a type of THC, the part of cannabis that can give you a high.

As of July 1, 2022, adults like Clark are no longer able to buy edibles that have Delta-8 thanks to a new rule from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Food and beverages with the chemical are now banned in Virginia.

The ban can get confusing. While you can’t drink a Delta-8 tea or eat a gummy, you can smoke it or use oils that have the chemical.

Cativa founder Dr. Johnny Garcia manufactures most of his CBD products in his lab in Suffolk. He said the VDACS agency gave businesses a notice on July 1 suddenly asking for the sale of the Delta-8 products to stop immediately.

Garcia said the ban comes after state lawmakers failed to pass a bill banning the chemical, adding it leaves many questions.

“We’ve asked for clarification,” Garcia said. “We’ve gone to the open sessions about what we can do and to date, we’ve gotten no response other than, 'Stop.'”

Garcia said his business Cativa is the largest CBD manufacturing companies in Virginia. He said he’s now stuck with $1 million worth of inventory that he can’t legally sell, and after pulling some of his best-sellers off the market, it’s hurting his bottom line.

“Just in the last two weeks, we’ve lost 75% of our revenue,” he said.

Garcia says Delta-8 THC has many benefits and is safe to use. He added that 40% of people use some form of CBD.

Garcia fears the ban will make people turn to opioids or the illegal black market. He said he wants to work with the state to come up with a way to regulate the chemical instead of banning some products.

“People have to understand how it affects their body because it does have some psychedelic effects,” Garcia said.

In a statement, a VDACS spokesperson argues Delta-8 THC currently has little research on the long-term health effects. A press release dated June 30, 2022, states that intoxication can cause adverse effects including lethargy, slowed heart rate, low blood pressure and difficulty breathing.

In the statement, the communications director said:

“The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, began alerting food manufacturers and retail food establishments in a June 30, 2022 press release and a direct emailed communication that certain products that are intended for human consumption and that contain cannabinoids may be considered adulterated if such products contain an ingredient that is not approved as a food pursuant to the Virginia Food and Drink Law (Law) or are not manufactured in a facility that is under inspection in accordance with the Law. Offering for sale an adulterated food or drink is a violation of the Virginia Food and Drink Law. Section 3.2-5145.1 of the Law defines “industrial hemp extract” as an extract (i) of a Cannabis sativa plant that has a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol that is no greater than that allowed for hemp by federal law and (ii) that is intended for human consumption. Section 3.2-5145.2 of the Law deems an industrial hemp extract a food and states that such extract is subject to the requirements of the Law. Section 3.2-5145.3 of the Law establishes the requirements that must be met for a manufacturer of an industrial hemp extract or a food containing an industrial hemp extract to be considered an approved source.

“Currently, VDACS Food Safety inspectors are performing inspections to educate food manufacturers and retail food establishments of the existing requirements in the law and requiring businesses to comply.”