Virginia Senate subcommittee advances Marijuana legislation

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Virginia Senate subcommittee advances Marijuana legislation

A Virginia Senate subcommittee has advanced legislation that would establish a retail market for marijuana in Virginia.

The panel considered two measures during a meeting Thursday morning, advancing one that would authorize sales beginning in January 2025.

“We know that adult-possession cannabis has been legal in Virginia for two and a half years now, and it’s past time that adults 21 years and older can buy a safe, tested cannabis product regulated and taxed by the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria).

The bill that Ebbin proposed would have started sales this year, giving pharmaceutical providers who currently supply medical marijuana the first shot at opening retail businesses.

A competing proposal from Sen. Aaron Rouse (D-Virginia Beach) would give prospective license holders equal access starting in 2025.

“This is about leveling the playing field,” Rouse told members of the subcommittee, “ensuring that when this market steps up, everybody has a fair shot.”

Groups such as The Family Foundation and the Virginia Catholic Conference oppose marijuana commercialization.

“A study out of Columbia in 2019 actually showed that when we commercialize marijuana, that the rates of addiction are 26% higher than those states that did not commercialize marijuana,” said Todd Gathje, President of Government Relations for The Family Foundation.

“If you look at Colorado, they have had exponential increases in crime,” said Tom Intorcio, Associate Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference.

The subcommittee combined the two bills, choosing the Rouse bill as the vehicle for advancing the legislation.

“Marijuana is legal. We’re not going back,” said Greg Habeeb, the former Salem delegate who represents the Virginia Cannabis Association. “The question is very, very simple. Should we have illegal sales of untested, unregulated products sold by unlicensed drug dealers to children and anybody they want to, or should we regulate those sales, tax them, license the sellers?”

The Senate bill will see more committees, more changes, and more votes before it reaches the full Senate.

Another measure is moving forward in the House of Delegates.

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Region: Virginia

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