The Virginia Legislature has approved a bill explicitly legalizing hemp cigarettes, the Virginia Mercury reports. The products were already being sold in the state but Del. Danny Marshall (R), the bill’s sponsor in the House, said the measure clears up any confusion.
Marshall indicated need for such a law after one candidate in a local sheriff’s race accused the other of not enforcing federal law because he allowed smokable hemp flowers to be sold in stores.
The bill sets the legal age to purchase hemp cigarettes at 21 – the same age required to buy tobacco cigarettes.
Sen. John Edwards (D), who sponsored the measure in the Senate, said he had “no idea” who would want to buy hemp cigarettes, but the bill passed the chamber 37-3.
Hemp flower products have created confusion for law enforcement throughout the country since it smells and looks like THC-rich cannabis. Last October, a Hanover County judge dismissed a cannabis possession charge after a state laboratory supervisor testified he couldn’t tell the difference between legal and illegal cannabis. The defendant in that case had purchased the hemp flower from a gas station which provided documentation that the flower tested at .28 percent THC, which is below federal and state thresholds.
Last week, lawmakers approved broad cannabis decriminalization that reduces the penalty for possession up to a half-ounce to $25. The current law calls for a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign both measures.
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