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Sorry Virginians, No Recreational Cannabis Sales in Virginia Until the End of 2023 at the Earliest


Why Virginians won’t be able to buy cannabis legally anytime soon

The first Virginians could legally buy cannabis from licensed stores in June 2023.

There is about a 60% chance that it will be moved. The only thing that is certain today is that cannabis dispensaries in Virginia will not be selling weed for adult use this year, not thanks to the decision made by the House of Delegates subcommittee.

A few days ago, the House of Delegates subcommittee to consider a bill that would allow the sale of cannabis within months dashed the hopes of thousands of cannabis advocates in Virginia. The subcommittee took a stand against recreational marijuana sales in September.

The government of Virginia approved the legal use of cannabis for recreational purposes last year, making the state the first southern state to do so. Since then, plans have been in place to smoothly establish a cannabis market. Last month, the Senate chambers approved a measure allowing existing medical cannabis and hemp businesses to dive into the proposed recreational market.

The push to advance the date

According to the bill approved last summer, recreational sales were to begin by 2024. The law only allows adult residents to possess one ounce of cannabis. Cannabis consumers in the state are also allowed to plant four cannabis plants for their own consumption. The comprehensive bill did not legalize commercial sales of recreational cannabis, but rather provided a stipulated date when the industry could begin sales.

Earlier this year, some senators and a few Democratic delegates rallied to demand that the date be brought forward. These lawmakers said the delay between decriminalization and the proposed date is far too long. Before plans could be implemented by 2024, the adult weed black market would have reached unfathomable heights. Exposing consumers to unsafe and untested products.

Delegate Dawn M. Adams said a bill to speed up the sales process is a great idea. He noted that this bill would help properly regulate the recreational market as new legislation continues to sink in. He pointed out that delaying recreational cannabis sales until 2024 will only strengthen and expand the illegal cannabis market. In other words, the longer it takes lawmakers to agree to expedite the deadline, the harder it will be for the government to bring down the illicit market. Without forgetting that economic operators will find it more difficult to compete with the illicit market.

The GOP decision temporarily suspended that bill. In Richmond, defenders have been seen and heard clamoring for advance sales. Many have tried to let the government know why this delay in sales will cause small minority cannabis businesses to shut down. Only large companies would be able to compete with the advance that the illicit market could derive from this delay.

The Future of Adult Cannabis in Virginia

The prospect of any bill arising in favor of advance sales is shrouded in uncertainty. The GOP decision was the first time the chambers have voted on a marijuana bill this year.

Delegate Jeffrey L. Campbell said moments before the vote began that he had a hard time accepting that the time had come for cannabis sales to begin in Virginia. He explained that he dissected every aspect of the bill over the weekend, trying to figure out if the benefits of approving the bill were worth it. He concluded by saying that the problem on the ground must be gradually solved. He thinks the issue is too complicated to be rushed through in less than a month.

The Republican-led House reiterated its commitment to implementing cannabis legislation. Last year, reports showed that GOP lawmakers opposed most cannabis policies proposed by Democrats in the chambers. Provisions regarding social equity, community development through tax diversion, etc., were rejected.

GOP leaders and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin revealed that the law needs some changes before the trade market can be implemented.

A spokesman for House Speaker Todd Gilbert, Garren Shipley, announced last Monday that lawmakers needed more time. He compared the current problem to buying a used vehicle. He explained that, like those old vehicles, the law has root issues that keep coming to light once one is resolved. He added that the government would need more than one session to put everything in order.

Mixed reactions

Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, the sponsor of the advance sales bill, expressed frustration with the GOP blocking the measure. He says their justification for rejecting him is not enough. He also pointed out that the important parts of the content of the bill had been drafted since last year.

Ebbin explained that lawmakers had more than six months to read the bill and propose changes or come up with another measure. This rejection will leave the commercial and recreational market unregulated and unfair in the long run. He added that illicit cannabis sales would explode like a balloon.

On the other hand, Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, noted that the decision of the delegates was the right one. She added that it was better for commercial sales to be reconsidered next year. The Marijuana Justice organization is one of the opposing agencies that argued that the proposed changes to the bill would not benefit minority business owners.

Higgs Wise says the newly added time can be used to organize disadvantaged communities and equity candidates to ensure they are properly positioned when sales begin.

Conclusion

Lawmakers on both sides have failed to make a concession on the implementation of recreational cannabis legislation.

GOP lawmakers have revealed that the issue will be revisited in early 2023. That means mid-2023 is the earliest retail can launch. Note that when the first sales begin, only existing cannabis businesses will be allowed to sell to the public. While licensed adult retail stores would join by 2024.

Until then, cannabis enthusiasts in Virginia are advised to grow their own weed, get a few puffs from friends, or apply for a medical license to purchase it from one of the medical cannabis dispensaries around the country. State.

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