Federal Judge Upholds Virginia Hemp Law Over Industry Challenge

Federal Judge Upholds Virginia Hemp Law Over Industry Challenge

This story has been updated to include comment from Travis Lane, one of the plaintiffs.

A federal judge in Virginia upheld a state law aimed at regulating intoxicating hemp-derived products, dismissing a legal challenge from hemp companies in the state.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema ruled against the hemp businesses seeking to prevent Virginia from enforcing SB 903, a law designed to restrict hemp-derived intoxicants such as delta-8 THC. The ruling, issued Monday, asserts that the law aligns with the federal Farm Bill of 2018, which allowed states to enact stricter regulations despite legalizing hemp and hemp derivatives at the federal level.

The plaintiffs, Northern Virginia Hemp and Agriculture LLC and Franny’s Operations Inc., argued that SB 903 contradicted federal law and hurt their businesses. However, the court found that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a direct injury from the law’s enforcement and therefore lacked standing.

Rejecting the argument that the law unfairly impacts interstate commerce, Judge Brinkema noted there was no evidence of the state trying to protect local firms or hinder out-of-state competitors.

“The alleged burdens on interstate commerce are incidental and plaintiffs have not alleged any facts showing that this provision of SB 903 was motivated by a desire to undertake economic protectionism or to discriminate against out-of-state hemp businesses,” the opinion said.

“Defendants have demonstrated that delta-8 THC is a credible threat to the Virginia population, and there is a strong public interest in protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth from substances like delta-8, including a vulnerable population, such as children, from hospitalizations and poisonings,” the court said.

The decision contrasts with recent rulings in other states, such as Arkansas and Maryland, where judges have sided with the hemp industry, blocking enforcement of similar state laws on the grounds that they may conflict with federal legislation.

“I remain committed to the fight for a safe and regulated cannabis market in Virginia but am unable to continue this appeal,” Travis Lane, the lead plaintiff in the case, told Green Market Report. “I hope that bigger industry leaders will step forward to challenge this ruling.”

“The judge seems to have based the decision on an opinion that these cannabinoids can pose a danger to children and public safety, which we never opposed in our argument. I urge our lawmakers to regulate the industry or allow small business hemp companies to enter the medical cannabis market.”


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