VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A bill to crackdown on hemp products could lead to more than 4,000 people losing their jobs, an economic study found.
The study was done by Whitney Economics, an Oregon based Cannabis consulting and research firm, on the impact of two bills that have passed in the General Assembly dealing with the hemp industry.
The bill adds packaging, labeling, and testing requirements. Opponents say it also adds additional clauses, putting caps on what they can sell.
The study found about 4,200 people were employed at stores that sell CBD and hemp products in Virginia. It found those jobs could be eliminated if the bill becomes law.
Gov. Youngkin and the bills' sponsors have sought to ban Delta 8 THC, which does give users a high, but opponents of the bill say it was written so broadly it would also prevent them from selling many CBD products.
"The pendulum has swung so far the other way that this bill is now going to throw out the baby with the bathwater," said Jason Blanchette, a business owner and president of the Virginia Cannabis Association.
He's hoping the governor will amend the bill. He understands more regulations on Delta 8, but believes the bill is a job killer.
"We're an agricultural state. We're attempting to do whatever we can right now to keep that going," said Blanchette.
The bills' sponsors have said the intent is keep products that can give people a high out of the hands of children.
A spokesperson for Gov. Youngkin says he hopes the bill will "keep dangerous intoxicants off the shelves and away from Virginia children."
The spokesperson added that he continues to review the bill and is meeting with stakeholders.
The hemp industry is hoping to have an impact before this becomes law.
"It's a mess and we're trying to implore to the governor and his team right now," said Blanchette.