Interagency Collaboration Increases Hemp Product Safety

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Hemp product regulation in West Virginia has undergone significant developments in recent years, reflecting the state’s commitment to fostering a successful industry while ensuring compliance with federal and state guidelines and consumer protection.

Senate Bill 679 was passed during the 2024 Legislative session to clarify regulations on certain plant-based products. This includes hemp-derived cannabinoid products. The bill designates regulatory authority to the Commissioner of Agriculture and the WV Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (WVABCA) Commissioner. It also allows for collaboration and information sharing between the Tax Commissioner, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the WVABCA Commissioner. Additionally, the WVABCA is granted authority to enforce regulations on these products at the retail level, among other regulatory measures.

Hemp-derived cannabinoid products can include products that contain cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, or products that contain lower concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC. Both CBD and THC naturally occur in hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and derivatives with low concentrations of THC (no more than 0.3 percent total ∆9 THC on a dry weight basis), from the definition of marijuana, in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) regulates hemp and kratom products and vendors in West Virginia. Under West Virginia law, label review, contaminant/potency testing, product registration, and seller/vendor registration have been designed to ensure these types of products are safe for human consumption.

As the popularity and availability of hemp-derived products increase, so does the workload of WVDA staff responsible for registering and verifying products and retailers, amidst an influx of products flooding the market. Particularly challenging are issues with out-of-state companies and West Coast products that are potentially dangerous, federally illegal, or attractive to children. When illegal products are embargoed from the shelves, respective prosecuting attorneys are immediately notified for prosecution consideration.

Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt emphasized the importance of educating vendors about the products they are selling to ensure they are safe for consumption. “Often, retailers require a deeper understanding of the products they sell, and we’ve seen West Virginia business owners and chains collaborating with us to ensure consumer protection,” said Commissioner Kent Leonhardt.

Commissioner Leonhardt thanks Delegates Bob Fehrenbacher (R-Wood) and Scot Heckert (R-Wood) for their role in facilitating a pilot project in Wood County. This project involved collaboration between the WVDA, WVABCA, local law enforcement, and the WV Tax Department to address sales to underage buyers. The initiative contributed to refining processes and procedures and building partnerships with these agencies.

WVABCA Commissioner Fred Wooton affirmed the commitment to support the WVDA in enforcement areas.

“The WVABCA is committed to assisting the WVDA with retail enforcement and preventing the sale of registered hemp and kratom products by WVDA’s permittees to West Virginia’s youth,” said Commissioner Wooton. “The WVDA, West Virginia Tax Division, and the WVABCA have been conducting underage operations in various locations throughout the state to keep these products out of the hands of West Virginia’s underage youth. Protecting our youth from hemp and kratom products is of paramount importance and I would encourage parents and other concerned adults to join me in this commitment.”

There are currently 1,063 registered hemp retailers with 1,707 hemp products registered in WV. Handling this volume of specialized retailers has proven to be a significant responsibility for WVDA staff.

2024 Numbers:
  • Number of WVDA-inspected counties: 45
  • Number of illegal products confiscated: 611
  • Number of notices sent to county Prosecuting Attorneys: 48
  • Number of inspections: 276
  • Number of underage buys: 14 out of 75 attempts

The remainder of WV counties are scheduled for inspection and as necessary for enforcement actions. As the market expands and becomes more diverse, the WVDA remains committed to halting the sale of illegal products and prioritizing consumers’ rights to know precisely what they are purchasing.

Commissioner Kent Leonhardt thanks the WVABCA, Division of Tax, and the WV Legislature for their collaborative efforts to get dangerous products off the shelves and protect WV businesses and consumers.

For more information on the hemp products industry, contact 304-558-2227 or

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.