• State laws allow individuals to consume hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil not exceeding 0.3% THC without restrictions in Virginia(1).
  • The state of Virginia has studied the economic benefits of industrial hemp since 1997(2). The studies eventually led to the legalization of industrial hemp in the commonwealth in 2015(3).
  • The 2018 United States Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp not exceeding 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Consuming THC may cause psychoactive effects(4).
  • Hemp-derived CBD oil products are widely distributed and sold in the United States. Research showed that CBD oil may contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-anxiety properties(5).

According to Virginia legislation, hemp-derived CBD oil products containing no more than 0.3% THC are legal under Virginia law without restrictions(6)

However, the term “no restrictions” is open to interpretation. It can mean that individuals may possess hemp-derived CBD without limitations or prescriptions.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid prevalent in marijuana and hemp plants.

Consumers may buy CBD because of its potential therapeutic properties, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-anxiety effects(7).

However, not all CBD products are legal under federal law. CBD oil may come from two types of Cannabis sativa varieties: hemp and marijuana.

Only hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal in all 50 States, granted that the product contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)(8). THC is the cannabinoid or compound in cannabis plants that causes psychoactive effects when consumed. 

In 2018, the US Farm Bill was passed, legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp not exceeding 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. The legalization of hemp-derived products includes the legalization of hemp-derived CBD oil on a federal level(9)

Hemp growers must submit their production plans to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to USDA, hemp growers should send a crop sample (15 days before harvest) to a laboratory accredited by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)(10)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that selling cannabidiol products has some restrictions. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), CBD products are forbidden from being sold as dietary supplements or food(11)

Moreover, the FD&C Act prohibits conventional food products from containing compounds derived from cannabis plants (including hemp). The prohibition includes food intended for human and animal consumption(12)

The FDA stated that CBD oilshould not be marketed as a treatment for any medical condition or disease. This regulation covers all CBD products except Epidiolex, an FDA-approved CBD drug used to treat epilepsy(13).

Although the federal government has legalized industrial hemp, hemp-derived CBD oil’s legality may vary per state.

Virginia CBD Laws

The state of Virginia has a long history of researching industrial hemp. State laws were imposed to allow the study of industrial hemp and its economic benefits(14).

In 1997, Virginia launched a six-member committee, through House Joint Resolution 656 (HJ 656), to study economic benefits and challenges in cultivating industrial hemp in the state(15)

The resolution mentioned that the American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents 4.6 million farmers, passed a unanimous decision urging the research of hemp’s economic viability and potential(16)

In 1999, House Joint Resolution 94 (HJ 94) was passed, allowing the experimental cultivation of industrial hemp. HJ 94 acted more as a directive to the secretary of agriculture, the DEA director, and the Office of National Drug Policy director(17).

The two resolutions led to the state passing House Joint Resolution 605 (HJ 605) in 2001. The resolution indicated that the growth and production of industrial hemp promoted rural prosperity(18)

Thus, the Commission on Rural Prosperity shall confer with local agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and the Virginia State Police, regarding developing hemp guidelines(19)

In 2015, the then Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Senate Bill 955 (SB 955), legalizing industrial hemp cultivation

According to SB 995, any licensed person may cultivate and grow industrial hemp in the commonwealth for lawful purposes, including manufacturing industrial hemp products for scientific, agricultural, or research purposes(20). 

According to Virginia Legislation, hemp-derived CBD oil products not exceeding 0.3% THC are legal under Virginia law without restrictions(21). The term “no restrictions” is open to interpretation. It can mean that individuals may possess hemp-derived CBD without limitations or prescriptions.

However, procuring marijuana-derived CBD oil requires written certification from a licensed practitioner and registration with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy(22).

Senate Bill 955 also stated that no person may be prosecuted for possessing hemp-derived products or cultivating industrial hemp in the state(23).

In June 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced that a major hemp and cannabidiol processing facility is expected to open in the state of Virginia(24)

The facility, which is expected to receive $3.2 million in investment, may pay hemp farmers approximately $70 million over the next three years. The facility is also expected to create several job opportunities for Virginia residents(25).

Marijuana-Derived CBD Laws

The DEA published a notice stating that hemp or hemp products exceeding 0.3% THC are considered Schedule I controlled substances(26)

Schedule I controlled substances are components known to have a high potential for being abused. The Schedule I list includes marijuana plants (cannabis), heroin, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)(27).

In Virginia, the term cannabis oil covers industrial hemp oil that contains at least 5 milligrams of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol-A (THC-A) and not more than 10 milligrams of THC.

According to Virginia marijuana laws, the possession of marijuana products, including marijuana-derived CBD oil, is unlawful(28).

However, the state currently has a medical cannabis program that allows individuals with qualifying conditions to purchase cannabis oil. Cannabis oil can only be derived from a pharmaceutical processor registered with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy(29).

Qualified patients must obtain a written certificate from a licensed practitioner before being registered by the Board of Pharmacy. Registered patients may then procure cannabis oil from a cannabis dispensing facility or a pharmaceutical processor.

The medical cannabis programs’ qualifying conditions may vary depending on a state’s department of health. These conditions may include intractable epilepsy, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and chronic pain(30).

CBD Licensing Requirements

According to SB 955, any person applying to cultivate, process, and manufacture hemp must not have a felony conviction in the last 10 years. Also, the applicant must have written consent from the Department of State Police(31).

Interested applicants should register with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

Licensing fees vary depending on the nature of the business(32):

  • Fee for industrial hemp growers: $150
  • Fee for industrial hemp processors: $200
  • Fee for industrial hemp dealers: $250

Testing Requirements

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services does not require pre-harvest testing for licensed hemp growers. However, VDACS has the authority to conduct random testing(33)

The agency shall inform the licensed grower regarding the inspection. Once an inspection date has been scheduled, growers must not harvest the plants until sampling is completed(34).

The agency may also conduct random testing on hemp-derived products intended for human consumption. Inspections may occur at food businesses, manufacturing facilities, and hemp storage areas(35).

According to VDACS’ Division of Animal and Food Industry Services, hemp products must follow the United States Pharmacopeia standards(36)

The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is an organization responsible for protecting the health of the public. 

Thus, hemp extracts of hemp-derived products must not exceed legal limits for residual solvents, microbial contaminants, heavy metals, and pesticides(37)

Buying CBD Legally

According to VDACS, hemp-derived CBD products intended for human consumption, like CBD oils, CBD tinctures, CBD gummies, and CBD gummies, are legal in the state(38). The agency approves CBD as a food ingredient or dietary supplement.

However, this policy directive conflicts with the FDA’s prohibition of CBD being used as a food ingredient(39).

CBD vape products are permitted in the state as long as manufacturers and sellers follow the Va. Code sections 18.2-371.2 guidelines. Virginia law prohibits selling hemp-derived products intended for smoking to individuals under 21 years old(40)

Meanwhile, CBD products for animal consumption are prohibited. According to VDACS’ industrial hemp guidelines, hemp may not be used as an ingredient for animal food products(41)

How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy

Searching for high-quality products derived from industrial hemp requires some research. Virginians must be cautious when they buy CBD oil and other CBD products due to possible mislabeling and contamination.

They must refer to the information indicated on the CBD product label:

  • Manufacturer name
  • CBD oil type (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate)
  • Concentration
  • Bar code, quick response (QR) code, or website link that leads to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • Batch code or ID code

Consumers may check the manufacturer’s status with the Better Business Bureau.

When searching for CBD oil, consumers must check what CBD oil type the product is. The label should specify if the product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate.

CBD concentration is usually available in milligrams per milliliter. First-time CBD users must choose variants with lower CBD concentration. Meanwhile, long-time CBD users may opt for products with higher CBD content.

Some CBD companies have printed QR codes, bar codes, or website links on the label, which direct users to the COA of the product.

The COA is a third-party laboratory test result that indicates the cannabinoid content. It also states if the product contains harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides.

Batch codes or ID codes can help consumers verify if the COA is updated. All COAs must contain a product name, product concentration, batch code, and date of testing. 

It is also the consumer’s responsibility to check if the label’s concentration is consistent with the COA.

CBD companies with ethical business practices share the COA on their official website or print a COA quick response (QR) or bar code on the product label. 

Making the COA readily available helps customers determine if the company practices accurate labeling and cares for its customers’ safety.

Virginians should also check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to determine a company’s business practices. The BBB has created a medium for customers to provide feedback, complaints, and reviews(42).

CBD companies with BBB accreditation have passed specific standards, including the commitment to resolve consumer complaints, transparency, and ethical business practices(43).

According to the BBB, these CBD companies in Virginia received high ratings(44):

  • Your CBD Store – East End – 3442 Lauderdale Dr. Henrico, VA 23233-7529
  • 7th Letter Wellness – 14850 Hull Street Rd, Chesterfield, VA 23832-2533
  • Green Valley Nutrition – 506 Stewart St. Charlottesville, VA 22902-5440
  • Lilyhemp – 16W Church Ave SW, Roanoke, VA 24011-2143

Membership to hemp organizations, such as the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition, is another major factor when choosing CBD brands in Virginia.

Where to Buy CBD Products Legally

Virginians may buy CBD oil products from local retailers, wellness, and dispensaries.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has released a list of licensed industrial hemp dealers located in major cities and counties, including Richmond, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News(45).

Consumers may refer to VACS’ official website, www.vdacs.virginia.gov, to check the state’s list of licensed hemp dealers.

Consumers may buy CBD products from a brand’s official website or through online retailers.

Customers may also check BBB’s website for accredited CBD companies operating in the state. 

Understanding CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid or a naturally occurring compound prevalent in cannabis plants. 

Industrial hemp and marijuana plants contain cannabinoids, including CBD, THC, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC). 

Industrial hemp plants are known to contain high CBD with trace amounts of THC. The hemp plants undergo an extraction process to separate the cannabinoids from the components of the plant. Some processors may further reduce THC content to create THC-free products.

Manufacturers may suspend the hemp extracts in a carrier oil, such as hemp oil derived from hemp seeds or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil derived from coconuts.

There are currently three types of hemp-derived CBD oil products in the market.

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and minerals found in hemp plants. Once combined, these compounds produce the “entourage effect,” which is more effective than individual compounds(46).

Broad-spectrum CBD oil also contains all cannabinoids, including CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, and minerals, except THC. This product suits consumers who do not want THC in their system.

Meanwhile, CBD isolate consists of pure CBD only.

Conclusion

Virginia has a long history of evaluating whether to legalize industrial hemp. Since 1997, the state has assessed the potential economic benefits and rural prosperity associated with hemp cultivation(47). 

In 2015, the state eventually legalized hemp-derived CBD oil products, allowing consumers to purchase and use the products without restrictions(48).

The state has not imposed strict testing regulations on its industrial hemp licensees(49).

Thus, Virginians must be cautious when buying CBD products. Individuals must always check the certificate of analysis to verify the cannabinoid concentration and assess if it is safe for human consumption.

Disclaimer: The findings shared in this article is based on information retrieved on November 16, 2020. The legal status and regulations of CBD may change without notice. Readers must not treat the contents of this article as legal advice. 


  1. Virginia Legislation. The Legality and Availability of CBD Oil in Virginia. Retrieved from https://dls.virginia.gov/pubs/briefs/brief62.pdf 
  2. Virginia Legislation. House Joint Resolution 656. Retrieved from https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=971&typ=bil&val=hj656 
  3. Virginia Legislation. Senate Bill 955. Retrieved from https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+ful+SB955 
  4. The US Food and Drug Administration. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019 
  5. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 21. doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7023045/ 
  6. Virginia Legislation. The Legality and Availability of CBD Oil in Virginia. Op Cit. 
  7. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Op cit.
  8. The US Food and Drug Administration. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill. Op cit.
  9. Ibid.
  10. United States Department of Agriculture. Hemp Farm Bill Comparisons. Retrieved from https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/HempFarmBillComparison_022020.pdf
  11. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA Regulation of Dietary Supplement and Conventional Food. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/131878/download
  12. Ibid.
  13. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
  14. Virginia Legislation. House Joint Resolution 656. Op cit.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Virginia Legislation. House Joint Resolution 94. Retrieved from https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?991+ful+HJ94ER
  18. Virginia Legislation.  House Bill 605. Retrieved from https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?011+ful+HJ605ER
  19. Ibid.
  20. Virginia Legislation. Senate Bill 955. Op cit.
  21. Virginia Legislation. The Legality and Availability of CBD Oil in Virginia. Op cit.
  22. Virginia Legislation. Possession of Marijuana Unlawful. Retrieved from https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-250.1/
  23. Virginia Legislation. Senate Bill 955. Op cit.
  24. Governor. Virginia. Gov. June 2020 Announcement. Retrieved from https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2020/june/headline-858278-en.html
  25. Ibid.
  26. The Drug Enforcement Administration. Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act. Retrieved from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2020/fr0821.htm 
  27. DEA Drug Scheduling. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling 
  28. Virginia Legislature. Possession of Marijuana Unlawful. Op cit. 
  29. Virginia Legislature. Certification for Use of Cannabidiol Oil for Treatment. Retrieved from https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title54.1/chapter34/section54.1-3408.3/ 
  30. Boehnke, K. F., Gangopadhyay, S., Clauw, D. J., & Haffajee, R. L. (2019). Qualifying Conditions Of Medical Cannabis License Holders In The United States. Health affairs (Project Hope), 38(2), 295–302. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05266 
  31. Virginia Legislation. Senate Bill 955. Op cit. 
  32. Virginia Department of Agriculture. Industrial Hemp. Retrieved from https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-hemp.shtml
  33. Virginia Department of Agriculture.  Hemp Registration Guide. Retrieved from https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/Hemp%20PDFS/registration-guide.pdf
  34. Ibid.
  35. Virginia Department of Agriculture. Food Safety Letter. Retrieved from https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/food-safety-letter.pdf
  36. Ibid.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Virginia Department of Agriculture. Food Safety Letter. Op cit.
  39. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA Regulation of Dietary Supplement and Conventional Food.
  40. Virginia Legislature. Prohibiting purchase or possession of tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, alternative nicotine products, and hemp products intended for smoking by a person under 21 years of age or sale of tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, alternative nicotine products, and hemp products intended for smoking to persons under 21 years of age. Retrieved from  https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter8/section18.2-371.2/
  41. Virginia Department of Agriculture. Industrial Hemp Registration Guide. Retrieved from https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/Hemp%20PDFS/registration-guide.pdf
  42. The Better Business Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/
  43. The Better Business Bureau. Get Accredited. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/get-accredited
  44. The Better Business Bureau. Op cit.
  45. Virginia Department of Agriculture. Industrial Hemp Services. Retrieved from https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-hemp.shtml
  46.  Russo E. B. (2019). The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Frontiers in plant science, 9, 1969. doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.01969.
  47. Virginia Legislation. House Joint Resolution 656. Op cit.
  48. Virginia Legislation. The Legality and Availability of CBD Oil in Virginia. Op cit.
  49. Virginia Department of Agriculture. Food Safety Letter. Op cit.
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