Farmers in Virginia can now grow industrial hemp and manufacture hemp products.

The most recent session of the legislature approved a bill bringing the state into compliance with the 2018 Federal Farm Bill. That action, which took effect July 1, allows the manufacture of hemp products including oils as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, otherwise known as THC.

Other laws passed by the Virginia Legislature include a measure spoofing caller identification information is now a class 3 misdemeanor for a first offense which carries a fine of up to $500, and a second offense charge of a class 2 misdemeanor, which carries jail time.

Health care providers are also prohibited from requesting or requiring cash payments for opioid prescriptions or for treatment of opioid addiction.

College students get a potential break under two new laws passed this session. Boards of Visitors at public colleges and universities are now required to hold a public meeting before increasing tuition or fees.

Another change allows the board of visitors at UVa-Wise to reduce tuition rates for students who live in the Appalachian region. School resource officers hired after July 1, 2020, will have to undergo school specific training and each school will have to have at least one administrator, who has taken safety training.

A bill introduced by Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, allows electric companies to offer broadband to underserved areas in the state. One of the most publicized changes in state law imposes a mandatory fine of $250 for using a handheld device in a highway work zone.

Violating the move over law is now considered reckless driving and a class 1 misdemeanor rather than a traffic infraction. Any form of animal cruelty is now a felony charge.

The start of a new fiscal year restored 627,000 drivers’ licenses and removed the state’s ability to revoke licenses for unpaid fines and fees. The minimum age to buy tobacco products or e-cigarettes in the Commonwealth is now 21.

The legislature also bumped up the price of yearly vehicle inspection stickers from $16 to $20. A complete list of laws passed during the 2019 session of the Virginia Legislature may be found at www.virginiageneralassembly.gov or lis.virginia.gov.

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