HomeNewsVirginia's Hemp-Derived THC Laws Working

Virginia’s Hemp-Derived THC Laws Working

Analysis conducted by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) has found the number of pediatric patients visiting Virginia hospital emergency departments for cannabis-related issues has decreased, coinciding with stricter controls on hemp-derived THC.

Like other states, Virginia had been grappling with the proliferation of products containing intoxicating hemp-derived THC in various forms, usually produced by manipulating the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD. Some of these products mimic popular snack foods, making them particularly attractive to children. Furthermore, given the absence of suitable laws, these products were available from all sorts of retail locations, making them easily accessible to children.

While no deaths have been recorded, some of the effects on children consuming these products include vomiting, hallucinations, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, altered mental state and anxiety. Some hospitalizations have occurred

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed legislation into law last year that made it illegal to sell or offer for sale any substance intended for human consumption containing a “synthetic” derivative of THC, and set tight limits on total THC levels in hemp-derived foods. Some in the industry pushed back, but a request for a preliminary injunction was rejected by a federal judge on the grounds that “delta-8 THC is a credible threat to the Virginia population”.

The number of cannabis-related visits to emergency departments among pediatric patients had generally been on an upward trajectory prior to this, peaking in late 2022 and early 2023. But according to VHHA analysis, between the first and second half of last year, cannabis-related pediatric emergency department visits declined 21.5 percent (from 1,429 visits to 1,122 visits).

Delegate Terry Kilgore, who sponsored some of the related legislation (House Bill 2294), was pleased with the results.

“… it is certainly welcome news to see that this policy change appears to be having a positive effect in terms of declining pediatric emergency department visits due to cannabis exposure,” he said.

Virginians for Cannabis Safety (VCS) spokesman Ryan McKinnon also welcomed the findings, but says more needs to be done.

“The recent decline in pediatric hospital visits is a positive sign that last year’s bipartisan legislation is working,” he said. “Still, much work remains to raise public awareness, enforce existing laws and protect consumers, especially children, from these dangerous products.”

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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