From the rules of the road to the ins and outs of CBD, THC, and more, RVA Mag walks you through the full legal implications of recreational cannabis becoming legal on July 1.
From gummies to vape pens to even the elusive brownie, there are many ways to enjoy CBD and the medical effects it offers. With Governor Ralph Northam signing various cannabis bills into law in April, which will go into effect in Virginia on July 1, it is a pretty good time to be a supporter of your favorite hemp plant.
Here in the Commonwealth, the times are clearly changing toward a more progressive and supportive approach to what is debatably the safer recreational substance on the market. The aforementioned bills take actions including regulating CBD products as food, and providing various employment protections for state-registered medical cannabis patients. These new laws not only make it safer to use CBD, thanks to the regulations on its production, but also offer peace of mind to users who need to make it through the day without worrying about legal implications.
Despite this newness of this legal framework, cannabis shops are not a new thing in Virginia, nor are many of the products they offer. The loosening of legal restrictions will only increase the wonderland that is commercially available CBD — and, tangentially, THC (its psychedelic sister) — but should also lead to growth in the cannabis product industry and its popularity.
Kanapa CBD is located comfortably in Carytown, across the street from the historic Byrd Theater and the New York Deli (home of the best honey sriracha sauce this side of the river). Kanapa has been in the CBD game for the last five years, and they will be the first to tell you with an exasperated sigh that a lot, and I mean a lot, has changed over the last five years.
“First thing, people were purchasing CBD for a lot more than they are now,” said a spokesperson for Kanapa. “And now you have more competition. People are dropping their own batches and brands; it’s kind of like the craft beer market. You don’t have to go and buy Bud Light anymore, you can go to different localities and see what they’re growing.”
Because at the end of the day, it’s just a hemp plant, people are effectively growing it at home and turning it into various needs and preferences. Many people use it for various wellness needs, such as anxiety disorder and muscle soreness.
Even in 2021 there are still many people with misconceptions regarding CBD. The biggest one that remains is, of course, that CBD and marijuna are the same thing, and not what they actually are: two entirely different substances.
CBD is non-psychoactive; it’s derived from a non-intoxicating compound found in the hemp plant. THC is psychoactive, and creates the characteristics that we traditionally think of with a “marijuana high.” Therefore, anyone coming into a shop carrying CBD expecting to find a recreation of Eric Foreman’s basement from That 70s Show is going to be sorely disappointed.
“A lot of customers want that clarity,” said the Kanapa spokesperson. “They want to be focused throughout the day, and they like cannabis, but they can’t use that throughout the day because it leaves them groggy and unfocused. With CBD they can be functional with their kids and family, and while that’s not to say not everyone who uses THC is like that, the majority of people that come in here come for CBD because cannabis knocks them out.”
Much like craft beer, another misconception about CBD is that all of it is created equal. No two brands in the land of the hemp are the same, nor do they provide the same quality and experience.
“Every CBD product that I have seen is different, and every company does their own formulation,” Kanapa’s spokesperson said. “There are some that are full spectrum, with the THC in it. There is a broad spectrum with no THC in it, but still keeps the integrity of the plant with the cannabinoids and the terpenes, which are the flavors inside the plant. There is also isolate, which is CBD extracted by itself in a raw form.”
The passage of various cannabis bills legalizing the plant and its usage in April was a monumental step toward its regulation and normalization. However, there are some things that still need to be noted prior to the bills going into effect on July 1st.
“July 1st is not [legalizing] retail sales,” said Kanapa’s spkesperson. “That is the biggest misconception everyone needs to know. You can grow it in your house, but you cannot purchase it in a store.”
Amongst other things of note are that you can not carry more than an ounce on your person, the marijuana in your possession can only be gifted, with no monetary exchanges, and that there is a 21% tax proposed on it in addition to the 6% sales tax, which would bring the total tax on cannabis products close to 30%. If you do not already have a medical card, now might be the time, as medical patients will not be subject to this tax.
“This is a plant that is medicinally helping people, along with the recreational side as well,” said Kanapa’s spokesperson.
Another win from the bill and the future of cannabis in Richmond comes as a support for smaller businesses. While retail sales in Virginia will not officially start until 2024, from the looks of it so far, not everyone with a business can just start stocking their shelves.
“I do appreciate the way Virginia is trying to make it a social equity program,” said Kanapa’s spokesperson. “They are not trying to let big businesses come in here and run the show. I do like that they are not saturating the market initially. From what I have seen, they are only going to allow about 400 retail stores throughout the whole state, and they are going to make sure that the people who own them are Virginians, affected from cannabis in the past, and 66% are going to be minority owned, at least as required for those social equity permits.”
The folks at Kanapa also noted that it is pretty nice that the money is going back to Virginians and into the local economy.
As the first southern state to legalize cannabis, Virginia is in line with other states, mostly on the West Coast, who have already seen the overwhelming benefits and positive effects of legalization. From keeping innocent from being incarcerated over a recreational drug no more harmful (some would say less harmful) than many perfectly legal substances, to allowing medical patients to grow it in their backyard instead of spending valuable time in line, the benefits just keep coming.