Hemp shop shutters Richmond-based retail and grow operations to move out of state
Another local CBD shop has closed its doors in search of greener, less heavily regulated pastures outside Virginia.
Old Manchester Hemp Co. shuttered its retail storefront and hemp-growing facility at 1308 Hull St. on June 30, the day before new CBD laws took effect in Virginia.
Owner Anthony Mijares said he considered the new regulations too restrictive to continue to operate in the Old Dominion. He’s working on relocating his business to Washington, D.C., which he feels offers a more favorable regulatory environment.
“I felt as a company it was just too difficult for us to stay within the state regulations. We were doing OK. We weren’t making a lot of money but we were doing OK. And I really thought that (the new state regulations) would make our profits dive,” he said. “It’s like any business. It has its ups and downs. You have to pivot and just keep going.”
New state regulations changed the definition of what’s considered legal hemp in Virginia. Hemp products can have no more than 0.3 percent total THC concentration. Products can have no more than 2 milligrams of total THC per package, or have at least 25 times more CBD than total THC per package. In addition to other new rules, the new legislation requires retail businesses to get permits to sell hemp products.
In D.C., Mijares said his plan is essentially to replicate the business model Old Manchester operated in Richmond, which involved both a retail storefront (which was called River City Smoke Shop) and plant cultivation on site.
In addition to hemp products, the company plans to grow and sell medical marijuana and also add psychedelic mushrooms to its offerings as part of the relocation. D.C. has decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms, and Old Manchester plans to provide the fungi as free gifts with the purchase of other products.
Mijares said on Wednesday that he has his eye on a commercial space, but declined to share the address because the lease hasn’t been finalized. He hopes to reopen the business in Washington before the end of the year.
Mijares also has plans to establish a presence in Medina, Colombia, which is in the central part of the South American country. With a legislative push for legalization underway in Colombia, he wants to get in on the ground floor of a budding legal pot market.
“I loved it out there. The people are nice and it’s a beautiful city,” he said. “I saw the potential.”
He plans to open a store and growing facility in Medina in the middle of next year.
Mijares expects to rebrand the company because of its exit from Manchester, where it originally opened in 2021 with a focus on selling smokable hemp buds and joints.
Mijares plans to continue to run his other locally founded company, Lakeside-based signmaker Signscapes. He also plans to stay on as a board member of Virginia NORML, the state’s chapter of the national cannabis advocacy group.
Old Manchester isn’t the only locally founded business to look out of state for new opportunities in the wake of Virginia’s new regulations. Kultivate Wellness shuttered in Short Pump and opened a new store in North Carolina in response to the new CBD rules in Virginia.
It’s legal for people in Virginia to consume, grow and possess recreational marijuana for personal use. It’s illegal to sell recreational pot. The few government-sanctioned companies in the state’s medical cannabis program are the only legal sellers of medical marijuana in Virginia.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly failed to pass legislation that would have launched a recreational market.