Local shops hit with fines for CBD products after new law takes effect

hemp cbd products scaled

In the first three months that new state regulations on the sale of CBD products have been in effect, about 20 businesses across the state, including two in the Richmond area, have been hit with fines for noncompliance. (BizSense file)

Richmond area businesses are among the companies that have been fined for noncompliance with hemp and CBD product regulations in the first three months after they took effect in Virginia.

The new rules put into place July 1 changed the definition of what’s considered legal for hemp products in Virginia. Hemp products can have no more than a 0.3 percent total THC concentration. They also must have no more than 2 milligrams of total THC per package or no less than a 25:1 ratio of CBD to total THC in a package, in addition to other new rules such as a requirement that retail businesses get permits to sell CBD.

Inspectors from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have crisscrossed the Old Dominion to review stores’ wares for compliance with the new rules, and have issued $1.5 million in fines to about 20 stores thus far, according to documents provided by the agency last week.

“Enforcement efforts are statewide with no specific areas of focus. The agency does follow-up on tips to ensure compliance,” said VDACS spokesman Mike Wallace.

Smoker’s World in Henrico County and Tobacco Hut in Mechanicsville are local stores that have been fined per the new regulations, alongside stores in Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Vienna, Galax and other areas of Virginia.

Smoker’s World at 8125 Staples Mill Road was selling 40 edible hemp products that ran afoul of state law for various violations, according to the noncompliance letter from the state.

Those infractions included selling products that contained more THC than the recently instituted state limits. The store was written up for selling products that weren’t in childproof packaging and other packing and labeling issues. State law also prohibits edible CBD products in shapes deemed appealing to kids like fruit, vehicles and animals, and the store was in violation of that requirement as well.

Store owner Anna Gilliam-Abbasi said in an interview it was a surprise to hear from her employees that state inspectors paid the store a visit in early August. She said she wasn’t aware the law changed until the review of her store took place.

“My employee was very scared. They came in and took the products out of the display cases,” said Gilliam-Abbasi, who said she wasn’t present in the store at the time. “It was very Men in Black-y. Very formal, very scary. To go that hard three weeks after the law went into effect took me by surprise.”

The inspection also found the store didn’t have the necessary permit that retailers need in order to sell CBD products.

The state issued a $74,250 fine, according to its Aug. 10 letter, which was dated a few days after the inspection took place.

In its letter, Smoker’s World was informed it could pay a reduced civil penalty of $10,000 if it removed the offending products. Gilliam-Abbasi said she opted to appeal the state’s assessment and ultimately paid a $7,500 fine.

Smoker’s World, which sells CBD products and tobacco as well as smoking accessories, has operated for two years, and in February opened a second location in Chester.

Gilliam-Abbasi pulled the noncompliant hemp products from shelves and is in the process of finding and introducing legal CBD products to the business.

“We took thousands of dollars of loss on top of the violation and they took away 40 percent of our sales,” she said.

Tobacco Hut at 9280 Chamberlayne Road in Mechanicsville was found to be in violation of state requirements that edible CBD products be made by a manufacturer that has been inspected and that products feature a certificate of analysis from a certified lab, according to a Sept. 19 letter from the state. Also at issue was the finding that the store had products that featured synthetic THC.

The inspection, which took place several days prior to the letter, identified two products at the store that weren’t in compliance. The state issued a $3,000 fine for the violations, with the option to pay a reduced penalty of $1,500.

Tobacco Hut didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Local CBD store operators were critical of the legislative movement to restrict the products they can sell in their stores, and at least two local CBD stores, the Short Pump location of Kultivate Wellness and Old Manchester Hemp Co. in Richmond, have closed in response to the law taking effect.

It’s legal for people in Virginia to consume, grow and possess small amounts of recreational pot. It’s illegal to sell recreational marijuana, and the only entities currently able to sell pot are the few state-sanctioned medical marijuana providers.

hemp cbd products scaled

In the first three months that new state regulations on the sale of CBD products have been in effect, about 20 businesses across the state, including two in the Richmond area, have been hit with fines for noncompliance. (BizSense file)

Richmond area businesses are among the companies that have been fined for noncompliance with hemp and CBD product regulations in the first three months after they took effect in Virginia.

The new rules put into place July 1 changed the definition of what’s considered legal for hemp products in Virginia. Hemp products can have no more than a 0.3 percent total THC concentration. They also must have no more than 2 milligrams of total THC per package or no less than a 25:1 ratio of CBD to total THC in a package, in addition to other new rules such as a requirement that retail businesses get permits to sell CBD.

Inspectors from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have crisscrossed the Old Dominion to review stores’ wares for compliance with the new rules, and have issued $1.5 million in fines to about 20 stores thus far, according to documents provided by the agency last week.

“Enforcement efforts are statewide with no specific areas of focus. The agency does follow-up on tips to ensure compliance,” said VDACS spokesman Mike Wallace.

Smoker’s World in Henrico County and Tobacco Hut in Mechanicsville are local stores that have been fined per the new regulations, alongside stores in Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Vienna, Galax and other areas of Virginia.

Smoker’s World at 8125 Staples Mill Road was selling 40 edible hemp products that ran afoul of state law for various violations, according to the noncompliance letter from the state.

Those infractions included selling products that contained more THC than the recently instituted state limits. The store was written up for selling products that weren’t in childproof packaging and other packing and labeling issues. State law also prohibits edible CBD products in shapes deemed appealing to kids like fruit, vehicles and animals, and the store was in violation of that requirement as well.

Store owner Anna Gilliam-Abbasi said in an interview it was a surprise to hear from her employees that state inspectors paid the store a visit in early August. She said she wasn’t aware the law changed until the review of her store took place.

“My employee was very scared. They came in and took the products out of the display cases,” said Gilliam-Abbasi, who said she wasn’t present in the store at the time. “It was very Men in Black-y. Very formal, very scary. To go that hard three weeks after the law went into effect took me by surprise.”

The inspection also found the store didn’t have the necessary permit that retailers need in order to sell CBD products.

The state issued a $74,250 fine, according to its Aug. 10 letter, which was dated a few days after the inspection took place.

In its letter, Smoker’s World was informed it could pay a reduced civil penalty of $10,000 if it removed the offending products. Gilliam-Abbasi said she opted to appeal the state’s assessment and ultimately paid a $7,500 fine.

Smoker’s World, which sells CBD products and tobacco as well as smoking accessories, has operated for two years, and in February opened a second location in Chester.

Gilliam-Abbasi pulled the noncompliant hemp products from shelves and is in the process of finding and introducing legal CBD products to the business.

“We took thousands of dollars of loss on top of the violation and they took away 40 percent of our sales,” she said.

Tobacco Hut at 9280 Chamberlayne Road in Mechanicsville was found to be in violation of state requirements that edible CBD products be made by a manufacturer that has been inspected and that products feature a certificate of analysis from a certified lab, according to a Sept. 19 letter from the state. Also at issue was the finding that the store had products that featured synthetic THC.

The inspection, which took place several days prior to the letter, identified two products at the store that weren’t in compliance. The state issued a $3,000 fine for the violations, with the option to pay a reduced penalty of $1,500.

Tobacco Hut didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Local CBD store operators were critical of the legislative movement to restrict the products they can sell in their stores, and at least two local CBD stores, the Short Pump location of Kultivate Wellness and Old Manchester Hemp Co. in Richmond, have closed in response to the law taking effect.

It’s legal for people in Virginia to consume, grow and possess small amounts of recreational pot. It’s illegal to sell recreational marijuana, and the only entities currently able to sell pot are the few state-sanctioned medical marijuana providers.

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Liz Smith
Liz Smith
6 months ago

I just have to point out if I was an owner of this type of business, I would be sure I was following any changes in law associated with my business.

Chris Crews
Chris Crews
6 months ago
Reply to  Liz Smith

At issue is the fact that much of the law is ambiguous and there is a ton of “grey area” about what is and isn’t legal. They passed legislation without bothering to apply any qualifications or structure.

Zach Thomas
Zach Thomas
6 months ago
Reply to  Liz Smith

Just had to!

Dr. Abe Gomez
Dr. Abe Gomez
6 months ago

Such BS legislation. Legislation powered by money so those in line to produce the product once laws have been ironed out are guaranteed to corner the market. Legislation that uses scare tactics to persuade the mass population.

Michael Boyer
Michael Boyer
6 months ago
Reply to  Dr. Abe Gomez

Yes,all brought to you by Ralph Northam.

Thomas Edmonds
Thomas Edmonds
6 months ago
Reply to  Michael Boyer

My guy Northam hasn’t been in office for years this was all Youngkin

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
6 months ago
Reply to  Michael Boyer

Does Northam have a time machine? Youngkin once again ignores the will of the vast majority of Virginians to appease his small crazy base.

Matt Klaman
Matt Klaman
6 months ago

Better child-proof packaging, less packaging aimed at younger people, requiring lab analysis and all that “improvement” stuff is great and hard NOT to support. But the government forcing local businesses across state lines and wasting our money enforcing dumb laws that don’t stop anyone from buying this stuff? Terrible oversight. In fact, it’s easier to now buy these “illegal” products online than it was to go into a shop and prove your age! You also now can’t talk to knowledgeable people about what you’re buying in-store. Disclaimer: I dislike these “smoke shop” type places in general but fully support shops… Read more »

Brett Ruiz
Brett Ruiz
6 months ago

Every state seems to be bungling the liberalization of marijuana. It’s a good lesson in regulatory capture and public choice economics.

Jeffrey S Saradar
Jeffrey S Saradar
6 months ago

I just go to Maryland. Easier, cheaper and better edible products. VA is wasting the potential benefits and tax revenue, big time.

CLARK CHESSER
CLARK CHESSER
6 months ago

100% – all this Fiat does is make people go online or across statelines to get their product. All this does is penalize small businesses and inconvenience consumers.

CLARK CHESSER
CLARK CHESSER
6 months ago

Correct me if I am wrong, please, but all this Youngkin Fiat manages to do is make people go online to buy these high-THC products, right? Or if you are near DC/MD or NC, just head over the stateline and spend your $$$ there. Seems like all Gov. Youngkin did was penalize small businesses and inconvenience consumers. Granted, I am not a marijuana or tobacco user, but I have no problem with people selling these, as long as they are selling to consenting adults and not minors. This is some virtue-crat BS.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
6 months ago
Reply to  CLARK CHESSER

Youngkin doesn’t care about small businesses, he cares about the state sanctioned monopoly that puts money in his PAC, and he is using the apparatus of the state to protect that monopoly.