A House of Delegates subcommittee Monday voted down legislation that would have allowed recreational marijuana sales to begin this September.
The bill, which had passed the Democratic-controlled Senate last week, died on a party line vote, with Republicans opposing.
“I think this is a bigger issue than we can correct in two weeks’ time,” said Del. Jeff Campbell, R-Smyth.
Democrats on the panel urged their GOP colleagues to reconsider. “The longer we wait to have a regulated market, the harder it will be to compete with that illicit market,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond.
The General Assembly voted last year to allow people to possess and grow marijuana, but lawmakers have so far been unable to agree on legalized recreational sales. Democrats had set an initial goal of opening sales in 2024, but decided over the summer that was too long to wait, citing concerns that people were openly flouting the state’s ban on sales.
Currently the only legal way to obtain marijuana in Virginia is to grow it, get it as a gift or buy it from a medical dispensary with a prescription.
The politics became more complex after Democrats lost their majority in the House of Delegates in the November elections, leaving Republicans who opposed legalization to broker a final deal.
Coming into the legislative session, Republicans said they would address the issue, framing it as a mess Democrats had left them to clean up. But as the session progressed, it became clear the House GOP caucus was unable to reach an internal consensus on the issue.
The chamber never docketed GOP bills that would have advanced legalization alongside Republican priorities like dedicating new tax revenue to school construction.
With Monday’s vote, Republicans promised to revisit the issue next year, making sometime in mid to late 2023 the earliest retail sales could begin.
“Virginia Democrats made a great big mess when they legalized marijuana without putting any regulatory or retail structure in place,” said House Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, in a tweet. “We are left having to clean up their mess and we will not make it worse by rushing to fix it.”
House Republicans did advance legislation proposed by Del. Emmet Hanger, R-Augusta, which would regulate sales of delta-8 THC products, which give users a similar high as traditional marijuana but whose producers argue is technically legal under state and federal law.
The products have sprung up in specialty shops, gas stations and health markets.
Hanger’s bill would unambiguously bar sales until the recreational marijuana market opens.
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Robert Zullo for questions: [email protected] Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
- Commentary: It’s time for Biden to keep his promises on cannabisPaul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), calls on President Joe Biden to live up to the pledges made during his campaign regarding cannabis legalization.
- Unofficial totals show Missouri cannabis legalization initiative shortAn initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use in Missouri will need help if it is going to be on the November ballot. Reports from every county in the state show the petition is short of its goal in two of the six congressional districts needed to qualify for the ballot.
- Fate of Missouri cannabis initiative unclear as signature count continuesWhether Missouri voters will get a chance to legalize recreational marijuana in November is still in question. The latest incomplete tabulations show the Legal Missouri 2022 initiative is short of the necessary signatures in four of the six Congressional districts necessary to make the ballot.
- ACLU of NV suit to deschedule cannabis statewide survives challengeA legal effort by the ACLU of Nevada to force the Nevada Board of Pharmacy to remove cannabis from its Schedule 1 of controlled substances will proceed, Clark County Judge Joe Hardy ruled Wednesday when he denied the board’s motion to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit.
- Advocates, parents ‘beg’ Nebraskans to seek out and sign petition to legalize medical cannabisAdvocates for legalizing medical marijuana switched Wednesday from urging Nebraskans to sign their petition to begging them as a July 7 deadline looms to submit signatures to qualify for the ballot in November.
- Iowans launch cannabis reform campaign aimed at showing public supportRobert “Lewy” Lewis of Windsor Heights has been in pain since 1974, when he had spinal surgery at the age of 21. To repair a blockage in his spine, surgeons removed eight inches of his vertebrae and then sewed them back on, using about 300 steel stitches.
- Big Apple Cannabis: CWCB Returns to New York City for Eighth Year“No one seems to have gotten it right.” Mayor Eric Adams told a Friday afternoon crowd, of legal cannabis in America. “This is our chance to get it right.” New York City’s mayor addressed attendees of the 2022 Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBExpo) on the second day of the three-day event. Adams stressed the social equity focus of New York’s cannabis program.
- Nebraska medical cannabis backers file legal challenge to petition processSupporters of medical marijuana in Nebraska have launched a legal challenge to the state’s requirement that 5% of registered voters in at least 38 counties sign a petition to get the measure before voters on the ballot.
- N.J. lawmakers seek to curb cannabis useAs New Jersey nears the end of its first month of legal recreational marijuana sales, lawmakers have introduced a series of bills aimed at restricting what types of workers can use cannabis off the job.
- Missouri House votes to require disclosure of medical cannabis ownership recordsThe Missouri House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to require state regulators to disclose ownership information for businesses granted medical marijuana licenses that the state has withheld from public view.