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Ben Burstein

CBD and THC-A Oil Dispensaries Set to Open Across Virginia

By Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Virginians with a doctor’s recommendation soon will have access to CBD and THC-A oil dispensaries throughout the state. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy has approved five companies to open the dispensaries -- one in each of the commonwealth’s five health service areas.

The dispensaries will provide CBD and THC-A oils to approved patients only. The Board of Pharmacy met in private to review 51 applicants before selecting five: PharmaCann, Dalitso, Dharma Pharmaceuticals, Green Leaf Medical and Columbia Care. Background checks will be conducted before each company receives a license.

There are no scheduled opening dates for the dispensaries, but it's possible they could be operational by winter.

"Under the terms of their conditional approval, they all have to be open by the end of 2019," said Diane Powers, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Health Professions. The companies do not have to operate on any other specific timeline.

The dispensaries will offer welcome relief to patients suffering from a range of health problems, according to medical cannabis advocates. Legislation passed in 2018 allows medical practitioners to issue a certification for CBD or TCH-A oils for patients who would benefit from such substances. Dispensaries are only able to provide up to a 90-day supply at a time.

Stephanie Anderson of Richmond is considering CBD oil as an alternative treatment for her son's ADHD. She wanted her son to have safe and legal access to CBD products.

"I've been hesitant to try CBD from online sources, so the idea of having in-state pharmaceutical processors puts my mind at ease," she said.

PharmaCann, founded in 2014, currently operates medical marijuana facilities in five other states and is licensed to operate in three more. Its dispensary will be in Staunton in Health Service Area I, which stretches from Fredericksburg to the Shenandoah Valley.

Dalitso is a Virginia-based company that will specialize in the production of CBD and THC-A oils. It is in the process of obtaining approval to open a processing facility in Prince William County. Dalitso will open a dispensary in Manassas, which will serve Health Service Area II, including Fairfax and Alexandria.

Dharma Pharmaceuticals will open its dispensary in Bristol, covering  Health Service Area III, which encompasses southwest Virginia. Dharma is an international producer of medications for hepatitis, cancer and other diseases.

Green Leaf Medical will set up its dispensary in the Swansboro neighborhood in city of Richmond, serving the surrounding area south to Emporia in Health Service Area IV. Green Leaf is a producer of CBD and THC-A oils, along with other medical marijuana products available in almost 30 locations in Maryland.

Columbia Care will be based in Portsmouth and provide CBD and THC-A oils in Health Service Area V to residents in the Tidewater area to the Eastern Shore. Columbia Care is an international cannabis-focused health-care company with locations in 13 states, Puerto Rico and the Mediterranean nation of Malta.

Each dispensary submitted a $10,000 application fee and must pay an additional $10,000 per year to renew its license.

Attorney General Aims to Help Virginians Avoid Scams

By Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Nearly 12 million consumer complaints have been filed in the United States, in just a few years, ranging from reports of identity theft to consumer rights. The first week in March marks the Federal Trade Commission's National Consumer Protection Week, created to educate consumers about their rights and available resources.

In Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring’s Consumer Protection Section will cover a different topic every day this week to highlight different ways consumers can protect themselves and their money.

Herring addressed environmental consumer issues Tuesday, such as with Fiat Chrysler and auto parts supplier Robert Bosch. The company reached a settlement over the use of “emissions defeat devices,” which turn on a vehicle's emissions control sensor while being tested, but then turned off during normal operation in some of their vehicles. The emissions control sensor in vehicles reduces pollutant gas discharged while being driven.

Bosch is required to fix affected vehicles and provide owners with restitution. A total of $171 million is being paid back to the states involved, including $5.3 million to Virginia. That money is being used to either buy back, or fix vehicles that were impacted. Some of the money will be paid to the National Association of Attorneys General for training and future enforcement purposes.

"Businesses who lie to consumers about their products must be held accountable, and Virginians who purchased these misrepresented products deserve compensation," Herring said.

Monday, Herring’s office focused on ways its Consumer Protection Section can help Virginians. The organization has five units and was created to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices, and to respond to consumer complaints. "State consumer protection efforts have become increasingly important as the Trump administration continues to dismantle and undermine federal consumer protection efforts, especially from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," Herring said.

Since 2014, the section has recovered over $292 million in relief for consumers, according to Herring.

"My Consumer Protection Section has returned millions of dollars to Virginia consumers who were scammed by predatory lenders, shady debt collectors, and businesses that try to skirt the law. I will continue to fight for Virginia consumers and make sure they have the tools they need to protect themselves," Herring said.

The office has a webpage housed with different resources for consumers to keep up with recent scams, view business records and submit complaints. There is also information on how to obtain a free credit report from a credit bureau agency, and how to check for fraudulent activity.

Federal law requires free access to a credit report from each bureau annually. Anything suspicious on a credit report or financial account should be reported immediately; the FTC has information on credit freezes to prohibit anyone from obtaining information.

This week Herring also announced the start of the Wells Fargo Consumer Redress Review Program, which allows those who have not received reimbursement in the unauthorized account scandal to have their cases reviewed by Wells Fargo. The program, which reviews if a consumer is eligible for compensation, is a result of a December settlement with Wells Fargo.

"I would encourage any Virginians who believe they have been a victim of Wells Fargo's deceitful business practices to reach out to the company, to see what kind of relief they are owed," Herring said.

On Tuesday the office also delved into student debt protection. On Wednesday, the focus is protections for veterans, from scams that attempt to obtain pensions. Thursday the office will tackle protections consumers have from predatory lending scams, and also tech-related scams.  On Friday, consumers can learn about different scams and fraud tactics, and how to identify them.

National Consumer Protection Week is in its 21st year since being created by the Federal Trade Commission in 1998.  

Bills to Protect Landowners in Pipeline Cases Fail

By Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Landowners fighting to keep their property from being taken by pipeline building companies will continue footing the legal bills after two bills failed in the House.

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, said he introduced the bills to give landowners who don’t want pipeline construction on their land a fair chance against Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Southern Gas and other companies involved in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

SB 1404 would have required pipeline companies to pick the costs incurred by homeowners in eminent domain legal battles.

SB 1403 sought to amend state law and require the entities acquiring the property to pay all costs of court proceedings. It also would have required pipeline companies to provide compensation for homeowners. The compensation would have been at least 25 percent more than the company’s initial offer for the land.

Because the pipeline project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, the companies may invoke eminent domain — a right given to the government to take property for public use — if landowners refuse to accept compensation for their property.

“The pipeline companies have all the power, in the General Assembly and in condemning the property of small landowners,” Petersen stated after the bills failed. “My bills would have leveled the playing field in a small way. The House just missed it. We’ll be back.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a 600-mile underground pipeline that would deliver natural gas from West Virginia to the southwest region of the state and North Carolina.

Over 85 percent of affected landowners have entered into easement agreements to allow construction, according to the project website. Those landowners received compensation. The remaining easements needed to begin construction are being challenged in court. Such legal battles have halted construction. The pipeline was scheduled to start operating this year, but the new estimated completion date is between 2020 and 2021.

Residents have also lost property in the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline project that runs from West Virginia to southwest Virginia. Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon allowed Mountain Valley to seize private property through eminent domain. A group of landowners have requested a hearing from the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is uncertain whether a hearing will be granted.

On Dec. 7, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suspended a permit allowing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cut through two national forests. Dominion plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The House denied Petersen’s request to have changes to his bills restored to their original form. House amendments would have made the bill effective only on proceedings that started before July 1 of this year. Both bills failed as introduced. The senator plans to try again in the General Assembly’s 2020 session.

Lawmakers OK Bills To Expand Access to CBD, THC-A Oils

By Serena Fischer and Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- In the final weeks of its 2019 session, the General Assembly passed three bills that would help people using cannabis-derived medications.

On Saturday, the House and Senate gave final approval to a bill allowing students who have proper documentation to use CBD oil and THC-A oil at school.

SB 1632, sponsored by Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond, would prohibit schools from suspending or expelling a student for using CBD or THC-A oil with valid permission. The bill also would protect school nurses from prosecution of possessing and distributing the oils in accordance with school board policy.

Earlier in the month, legislators passed:

  • SB 1557, introduced by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico. It would allow physician assistants and licensed nurse practitioners to write a certification for cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil.

  • SB 1719, filed by Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax. It would allow patients receiving CBD or THC-A oil to designate a registered agent to pick up the medication on their behalf.

Dunnavant, the only physician in the Virginia Senate, has been an advocate for expanding access to medical cannabis.

“Allowing nurse practitioners to make treatment available will shorten the wait time and suffering for patients dealing with pain,” Dunnavant stated in support of SB 1557. “It is an effective way for physicians to offer low-cost and low risk remedies to their patients.”

Dunnavant hopes that expanding the use of cannabis-derived medications will help combat the growing opioid crisis.

“Overdose deaths related to prescribed opiates have decreased by 25 percent in states where medical marijuana programs are available. The potential side effects and risks of medically administered CBD and THC-A are far lower than opiates and many pharmaceutical drugs currently requiring a doctor’s prescription,” Dunnavant’s website states.

CBD, or cannabidiol, and THC-A, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, are two of the main compounds in the cannabis sativa plant.

Both components interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body that affect mood, pain, and memory. Neither contain the properties that produce a high. When raw, TCH-A has no psychoactive effects; only when burned does it become THC. Hemp, also a cannabis plant, is more widely used for CBD oil for its very low level of THC.

CBD and THC-A oils are used by many people to treat anxiety, migraines, nausea and other health problems. THC-A oils can achieve the same results as CBD oil but are less potent.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not endorse any CBD or THC-A medication with the exception of Epidiolex, used to treat seizures from two rare forms of epilepsy. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says it will support further research by the FDA into different components of cannabis.

“DEA will continue to support sound and scientific research that promotes legitimate therapeutic uses for FDA-approved constituent components of cannabis, consistent with federal law,” said Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon in a press release.

Virginia has moved slowly in allowing access to medical cannabis.

In 2015, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing CBD and THC-A oils only for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. Last year, lawmakers passed a bill sponsored by Dunnavant authorizing medical practitioners to recommend the oils to treat or ease the symptoms of any diagnosed disease or condition.

By expanding the definition of practitioner to include nurses, SB 1557 would make it even easier for Virginians to use the medical treatment.

“Expanding the availability of effective treatment options is both compassionate and practical,” Dunnavant said.

New Law Would Protect Students Who Use CBD and THC-A Oils

By Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Legislation to protect Virginia students who use cannabidiol oil is still making its way through the House after being unanimously passed by the Senate.  

SB 1632, sponsored by Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond, requires local school boards to implement policies that keep students from being suspended or expelled if they have “valid written certification” to use CBD and THC-A oil. While both oils are derived from the cannabis plant, neither have an intoxicating effect on those who use it to manage pain and other ailments.

Parents are required to provide written consent, along with details on the reason for use from the practitioner who issued the certificate and pharmaceutical processor that issued the oil. Schools must also be notified of the authorized dosage amount, and when and how it needs to be administered.

CBD and THC-A oils have grown in popularity in recent years with many using them to  treat chronic pain, anxiety, attention disorders and seizures.

In Virginia, doctors and nurse practitioners can prescribe cannabis-based products. The Board of Pharmacy gave approval to pharmaceutical companies to open five dispensaries across the state to sell CBD and THC-A oils to authorized patients. Last week, legislators killed a House bill to double the number of medical cannabis dispensaries.

Stephanie Anderson, whose son takes ADHD medication, said she is looking into how CBD oil might help him. She said she would want him to be allowed to use the medication at school if it benefits him.

“If we find CBD to be beneficial, I'd want it to be just as easy for him to take at school as the Adderall,” she said.

Two other bills related to medical cannabis cleared the state legislature Wednesday, both with 98-0 votes.

SB 1557, sponsored by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, expands the amount tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive component in cannabis, in a CBD or THC-A dose from five to 10 milligrams. Advocates have said that the increase will serve patients turning to the oil for therapeutic purposes. The bill also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry to recommend how a state medical marijuana program will be managed.

SB 1719, sponsored by Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, allows patients receiving CBD or THC-A oil to designate a registered agent to pick up on their behalf, and that person cannot be charged with possession of an illegal substance. The bill establishes a limit on how many patients an agent can represent.

Senate OKs Bill Requiring Daycare Facilities to Test Water for Lead

By Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Over 5,000 child care facilities around the state must start testing their drinking water for lead or use bottled water under a bill approved by the Virginia Senate.

SB 1622, introduced by Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Prince William, would require licensed child care facilities and other programs that serve preschoolers to implement a plan to test their potable water to ensure lead levels do not exceed 15 parts per billion. The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday and has been sent to the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions.

The high priority sources of lead come from drinking fountains and various sinks and faucets, according to the bill.

Older infrastructure has a higher risk of lead contamination due to lead pipes that were used until the 1980s. The bill also outlines the testing and follow-up process, in addition to establishing a method of reporting information to parents and state authorities.

Facilities would be required to test every six months in accordance with state and federal standards. They could opt out by using an alternate water source that meets U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards, such as bottled water. Child care centers are required to notify parents of children if they decide not to perform testing.

Facilities would have to notify the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services and the Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water if they went that route.

Initial testing results and proof of remediation would be reported to the same departments. According to the bill, once lead is brought under 15 parts per billion, facilities continue to test the water every six months.

More than 5,850 child care facilities statewide could be impacted by the legislation, state officials said. The Virginia Department of Health estimated that each facility has three to 15 water sources to test. The VDH also estimated that 50 percent of facilities would choose not to test and instead use an alternate source, such as bottled water.

Water containing lead can be especially harmful to developing children. High levels of lead in blood or prolonged exposure can affect the nervous system and cause developmental problems and learning disabilities, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

State outreach has cranked up in recent years to help raise awareness about lead in drinking water. The EPA created the “3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities “to guide school officials to “train, test, and take action” if lead is detected in the water.

Maribeth Brewster, director of the office of communications for VDH, declined to provide comment for this story, citing the ongoing legislative process.

A bill introduced by McPike was signed into law in 2017, requiring Virginia schools — with special emphasis on schools built before 1986 — to test potable water

Virginia Sports Betting Bills Advance

By Andrew Gionfriddo and Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- The odds of Virginia legalizing professional sports betting are improving as bills to authorize sports gambling are advancing in the Virginia General Assembly.

However, legalizing online sports betting may need a little push from companies that wish to bring their business to the commonwealth.

Senate Bill 1238, which would establish the Virginia Sports Betting Department and authorize sports betting, cleared the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology on Tuesday and is now heading to the Senate Finance Committee.

Also making its way to the Finance Committee is Senate Bill 1356, which would change the name of the Virginia Lottery Board to the Virginia Lottery and Sports Wagering Commission. The department would be allowed to accept sports betting wagers.

SB 1238 would prohibit betting on youth and collegiate sports, while SB 1356 would allow betting on youth and collegiate sports outside of Virginia.

The Virginia Sports Betting Department established in SB 1238 would allow for betting entities to apply for a three-year license if a locality votes to approve gambling facilities.

The Virginia Lottery and Sports Wagering Commission of SB 1356 would operate its own facility. While SB 1356 would create an online platform operated by the Lottery, neither bill would legalize private online sports betting.

Still, the push for online sports betting remains alive and well.

Last week, sports betting websites FanDuel and DraftKings lobbied the General Assembly to legalize mobile gambling in addition to sports betting, saying the move would generate millions in tax revenue and help curb illegal gambling in Virginia. Mobile gambling is done on a cellphone, tablet or a remote device with a wireless internet connection.

Sarah Koch, director of government affairs for DraftKings, and Cory Fox, counsel for policy and government affairs for FanDuel, detailed the benefits of sports betting to the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology on Jan. 18.  

Both companies currently operate mobile and web-based fantasy sports, allowing the sites to operate legally as a game of skill, not chance. That’s an important distinction in Virginia, where there’s more flexibility built into the Code of Virginia for games of skills than games of chance. Since there are a number of facets for players to consider, such as statistics or injuries, the operators contend that fantasy sports gambling is more about finesse than luck.

If online and mobile gambling were legalized, DraftKings and FanDuel would be able to open up their sportsbook facets of their websites and apps in Virginia. Both FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbooks act as traditional Vegas style gambling entities and operate in all states where sports betting is legal.

According to Koch, legalizing mobile gambling would help curb illegal sports gambling in the commonwealth.

“Mobile betting allows for advanced age and identity verification, tracking of bet activity, and the ability to restrict or exclude bettors to a greater degree,” Koch said.

Supporters also said the state could get a financial boost if such laws are passed. Fox said Virginia could match New Jersey’s success. He said over $94 million in revenue was generated in the first six months since electronic and in-person sports betting was legalized in New Jersey.

SB 1238 states that 50 percent of the revenue would go to the locality in which it was generated, whereas in SB 1356, 95 percent of the revenue generated from sports gambling would go into the state’s general fund.

Fox said fair tax rates could also assist in the decrease of illegal betting.

“Reasonable tax rates also help attract illegal betters to legal platforms because it allows the operators access to a viable marketplace, while also providing bettors more favorable payouts, further dis-incentivizing betting on illegal platforms,” he said.

Those who oppose sports betting, such as the Family Foundation, have voiced concerns about gambling addiction and collegiate sports betting. Both SB 1238 and SB 1356 aim to mitigate fears of facilitating gambling addiction by funding programs to help compulsive gamblers.

A study was recommended to be completed prior to the passing of any gambling bills. Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne spoke about the study last week, stating it would be about the public policy and regulatory structure of such bills.

“We have significant questions to answer regarding financial impacts,” he said. The study would look into the revenue sharing between state and local governments and what social impacts legalizing such gambling could bring.

General Assembly to Consider Legalizing Sports Betting

By Andrew Gionfriddo and Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Virginia would become the ninth state to legalize sports betting under legislation being considered by the General Assembly this session.

Lawmakers have introduced three bills to legalize sports betting, license betting operations and tax their revenues. Under the proposals, people would be able to bet only on professional sports; betting on college and youth sports would be prohibited.

Many legislators seem to agree that legalized sports betting is inevitable after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a federal law prohibiting such gambling in most states.

“Sports gaming is going to be legal across the United States. There is no reason to keep it illegal, when our neighboring states are already moving to legalize,” stated Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, sponsor of SB 1238.

Petersen’s measure would create the Virginia Sports Betting Department to regulate betting operations, which would be located only in localities that agree to allow gambling.

Under SB 1238, operators would pay an application fee of $5,000 and a tax of 10 percent of adjusted gross revenues. The department would keep 2.5 percent of the tax revenue to defray its administrative costs and help problem gamblers. The remaining money would be split between the locality where it was generated and a fund to help community college students.

Two Democratic delegates from Fairfax County also have filed bills to legalize sports betting.

Under HB 1638, sponsored by Del. Mark Sickles, the Virginia Lottery would regulate sports betting. Betting operators would pay a $250,000 application fee and a 15 percent tax on adjusted gross revenues. The lottery would retain 2.5 percent of the revenues to cover administrative costs and assist problem gamblers. The rest of the money would go toward a new initiative called the Virginia Research Investment Fund.

Besides sports betting, Sickles’ bill also would authorize the Virginia Lottery to sell tickets over the internet — a practice now prohibited.

The third bill allowing sports betting is HB 2210, by Del. Marcus Simon. It would direct the Virginia Lottery to regulate electronic sports betting (and, like Sickles’ legislation, to sell lottery tickets over the internet). Simon’s bill would impose a 10 percent tax on the gross adjusted revenue of operations that receive a permit to conduct sports betting. The lottery would keep 3 percent of the tax receipts; the rest would go into a fund to help problem gamblers.

HB 2210 would provide protections for people who may be susceptible to compulsive gambling. For example, people could voluntarily add themselves to a list of individuals who are excluded from engaging in electronic sports betting or buying lottery tickets.

Simon’s bill includes a section on “Sports Bettors Rights” and details procedures to ensure that people who win their bets receive their money, to intervene in instances of problem or at-risk bettors, to protect bettors’ privacy and to provide “transparency of sports betting,” such as the odds of winning a bet.

“I am introducing a Sports Bettors Bill of Rights to make sure that consumers and participants are part of that conversation from the very beginning,” Simon stated.

His “bill of rights” includes provisions to prohibit underage betting and prevent marketing sports betting to minors. Under all of the legislative proposals, sports betting would be limited to Virginians 21 and older — unlike the legal age to purchase lottery tickets, which is 18.

Simon’s bill has been applauded by an organization of sports fans.

“This bill is the most consumer-friendly sports betting bill the Sports Fans Coalition has seen at any level of government,” stated Brian Hess, the group’s executive director. “It is the only piece of legislation that hits all five of our Sports Bettors’ Bill of Rights.”

The coalition’s five principles are “integrity and transparency; data privacy and security; self-exclusion; protection of the vulnerable; and recourse.”

The U.S. Supreme Court opened the door to legalized sports betting in May when it overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. That federal law prohibited sports betting except in states like Nevada that had previously permitted such gambling.

Besides Nevada, sports betting is legal in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Mississippi.

Schools must test for lead in water

By Ben Burstein, VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND – With the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, safe drinking water is a high priority nationwide, especially for children. Beginning July 1, schools in Virginia will be required to test their potable water for lead.

Senate Bill 1359, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on March 20, seeks to ensure that local school boards test the drinking water in schools and that it meets federal guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that the level of lead not exceed 15 parts per billion.

Del. Kaye Kory of Falls Church is especially concerned about the water in older school buildings that may have lead pipes.

“The water that comes to the school from the water supplier can be fine, and still, because of the pipes inside the school, there will be lead in the water that children drink,” said Kory, who co-sponsored the bill. (The chief patron was Sen. Jeremy McPike of Woodbridge.)

The new law requires testing in all schools but puts an emphasis on schools built before 1986. Each school board must decide how to implement the law. Currently, schools are not required to test for lead.

Testing could be especially important for older school districts in lower-income areas with a deteriorating infrastructure, Kory said.

Testing for lead is complex: The tests must be conducted multiple times and at multiple locations, such as drinking fountains and faucets. If tests find high levels of lead, the school may have to replace pipes and take other actions, including providing bottled water for students and teachers. The problem cannot be fixed overnight.

Kory believes the new law is a step in the right direction to make sure the next generation of Virginians grows up healthy.

As seen in Flint, lead can be harmful to the human body, especially in children. Low levels of lead do not affect the body immediately, but prolonged exposure can damage the nervous system and cause other problems, including learning disabilities and hearing impairment.

Dr. Rutherfoord Rose, a toxicologist and professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, said lead poses a particular problem for young children whose nervous system is still developing.

“The critical point of lead exposure, even though you don’t want it in anybody, is really before they get to school,” Rose said. Most cases of lead poisoning come not from drinking water but from products that contain concentrated levels of lead, such as paint.

Whether the risk is marginal or not, parents are still concerned about lead exposure in their child’s school. Parents naturally want their children to have safe drinking water.

Thomas Amrhein’s 6-year-old daughter attends kindergarten at R.C. Longan Elementary School in Henrico County’s West End. Amrhein is glad for the new law requiring water testing.

“I think it’s urgently important since the problem has been uncovered,” Amrhein said. He said he is happy the testing is being done because the safety of children in public schools is crucial.

If the tests find lead in the drinking water at R.C. Longan, Amrhein is confident that the school will take immediate action to resolve the issue. “I believe they would rectify it in a timely manner.”

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