Legislative Deadlock Leaves Virginia Without a Legal Marijuana Market
Marijuana legalization has been a hot topic in the state of Virginia, with possession being legalized in July 2021. However, there has been little progress when it comes to establishing a legal retail market for marijuana.
The legislative session ended in a stalemate this past weekend after legislators failed to establish a legal retail market. Despite marijuana possession being legal, there is no legal avenue for recreational retail sales. This means that while it is legal to possess, grow, and gift the plant, it is still a felony to sell it outside of the state’s medical marijuana program.
Democratic lawmakers had previously voted along party lines to legalize marijuana possession, with plans to establish a legal retail market by 2024. However, they lost control of the House of Delegates and the governor’s office in 2021, hindering any progress on this matter.
During the session, lawmakers also cracked down on hemp-based synthetic THC products that have become increasingly popular in tobacco shops and gas stations throughout the state. The new hemp rules mean that hemp-derived products will be subject to a more robust permitting process and there will be limits on the amount of THC in each product.
Proponents of these new regulations are hopeful that it is a step towards creating a safer consumer market, and Governor Youngkin is likely to sign the measure. However, many Democrats have argued that the Republican-controlled House of Delegates has blocked any progress in establishing a legal retail market for marijuana.
At present, there is no timeline as to when legislators will take up the issue again, with it being unlikely they will do so until their regular session next year. Until then, those in Virginia who are hoping for a legal retail market for marijuana will have to wait. Until then, the only way one can obtain marijuana is through gifting or through the state’s medical marijuana program. It remains to be seen if and when legislators will progress on this issue.
While it is a step forward that possession of marijuana has been legalized, without establishing a legal retail market, those looking to purchase marijuana will remain unable to do so. It is now up to lawmakers and the governor’s office to decide how they move forward on this issue.