NORFOLK, Va. - Gov. Youngkin has proposed banning sales of Delta 8-THC hemp products in Virginia.
Youngkin made the recommendation to a bill passed by the General Assembly that puts more restrictions on hemp derived products.
These products are in the form of vapes and edibles and are sold at many CBD and vape shops in Virginia. They give users a buzz, but not as strong as one from regular marijuana.
"Delta-8 is in fact basically marijuana and marijuana is prohibited from being sold right now. There's not a market, so this was a good clarifying amendment in order to treat Delta-8 along with Delta-9 in the same category, while preserving all the access for CBD products," Youngkin told News 3 on Tuesday morning.
Youngkin also has proposed limiting the sales of CBD to people 21 and older.
The hemp industry slammed Youngkin's proposals. "Unfortunately, this bill turned from bad to worse," said Yan Gleyzer, a business owner in Chesterfield County and the president of the Virginia Healthy Alternatives Association.
"We do have to have some regulations," said Gleyzer. "We cannot wipe down the entire market because of one product."
The Virginia Hemp Coalition also has come out against the bill and the amendments. "We feel surprised by some of the misguided proposals in the bill. This bill will hurt job creation, hurt the economy, hurt farmers, and take away many legitimate rights for hemp consumers," the group's President Jason Amatucci wrote in an email to News 3.
Youngkin has also recommended people face a misdemeanor charge if they are in possession of more than two ounces of marijuana and also says CBD products should only be sold to people 21 and older.
Currently in Virginia, simple possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults 21 and older is legal. If people are caught with between an ounce and a pound of marijuana, they would face a $25 civil fine. Possession of over a pound is a felony.
Youngkin is proposing people with more than two ounces face a misdemeanor charge, which follows a recommendation made by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.
Youngkin says his proposal follows what other states have done when small amounts of marijuana were legalized. "We weren't blazing a new trail here," he said. "We were just putting in good governance as it's been seen in other states and recommended by a bipartisan commission."
Still, a group called Marijuana Justice, who is fighting to end what they call the war on drugs, said they're disappointed in the proposal. "That's what these new crimes do - they take people from experiencing what could be a $25 ticket to possibly spending time in jail or prison [if they're] caught more than once with this new misdemeanor," the group's Executive Director Chelsea Higgs Wise.
In addition to these recommendations, Youngkin signed 700 bills into law, amended more than 100 bills, and vetoed 26 bills.
"There was a very productive legislative session in Virginia and an enormous amount achieved on a bipartisan basis," he said.
Lawmakers will consider whether or not to accept Youngkin's actions on April 27.