RD555 - 2023 Consumable Hemp Product Report: A Comparative Examination of the Commonwealth’s Approach to Hemp-Derived Product Regulation with Other State Approaches, Updates on Regulatory Activity at the Federal Level, and Recommendations for Future Legislative Consideration – October 30, 2023

Executive Summary:

In the last few years, the market for edible hemp products and hemp products intended for smoking (collectively, “consumable hemp products") has exploded in popularity due in large part to their accessibility and potential to produce intoxicating effects comparable to the “high" experienced from marijuana. The public health risks posed by these products are numerous and grave. They include, but are not limited to, minors’ relatively unhindered access to the products, unwitting consumption of the products because of their resemblance to other commonly consumed non-intoxicating goods, and the potential ingestion of products contaminated by residual solvents, microbials, and pesticides. These dangers have spurred state-level efforts to regulate the consumable hemp products market.

Virginia has made significant regulatory changes to address the challenges presented by consumable hemp products. An examination of other states’ efforts to limit the risks associated with consumable hemp products reveals other regulatory strategies for Virginia to consider as it explores additional methods to bring this difficult problem under control.

This report surveys the market for consumable hemp products, identifies public health concerns, and discusses common state approaches to addressing these problems. It also examines difficulties states have faced as they adopt restrictions limiting sales of consumable hemp products, including ongoing legal challenges and uncertainty over the implications of potential federal legislation. The report concludes with recommendations, which include (1) imposing robust contaminant testing requirements for all consumable hemp products; (2) requiring ingredient limits on consumable hemp products and implementing a preapproval process for consumable hemp products; (3) addressing access by minors to consumable hemp products at retail locations and through online sales; and (4) imposing further limits on online sales of consumable hemp products.