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Virginia Rejects Proposal to Start Weed Sales This Year |

After Republican legislators in Virginia rejected a bill Monday, recreational pot sales will now have to be held off until next year. The commonwealth continues to experience setbacks with cannabis. 

The Democratic-controlled state Senate last week passed the bill, which would have launched cannabis sales on September 15.

But the bill flamed out in the House of Delegates, where Republicans hold the majority, with lawmakers “arguing that there is not enough time to perfect the complex legislation, while promising to address it next year,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

An House subcommittee decided 5-3 that it would wait for next year before taking up the bill.

This outcome reflects the uncertainty around the new cannabis law and highlights how far the political landscape has evolved since Virginia was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana last year. 

In that year, Democrats controlled majorities in all chambers of each general assembly. Ralph Northam, a Democratic governor signed the legalization they had passed into law. 

But in November, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the open governor’s seat, while the GOP took back the majority in the state Senate. 

You can find the following: Richmond Times-Dispatch explained, when they held majorities in 2020, “Democrats in the House and Senate could not come to an agreement on how to structure the legal market and deferred the work for this year,” and then “faced an unexpected turn of events when the GOP took control of the House in the November elections.”

Youngkin and his newly elected Republican party allies have stated that they will not repeal the legalization of personal possession. But it isn’t clear what Youngkin and other Republicans intend to do with cannabis sales.

“When it comes to commercialization, I think there is a lot of work to be done. I’m not against it, but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Youngkin said in an interview prior to taking office. 

“There are some nonstarters, including the forced unionization that’s in the current bill. Law enforcement has raised concerns about how this gap can be closed. Finally, there’s a real need to make sure that we aren’t promoting an anti-competitive industry. I do understand that there are preferences to make sure that all participants in the industry are qualified to do the industry well.”

Last week, 23-16 votes were cast in favor of the bill that would move forward the date for marijuana sales. 

This new start date, September 15, would be a major change to the January 1, 2024 start date.

According to the bill, it would have given medical providers and processors of hemp the ability to sell recreational marijuana on the new date. Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Republicans in Virginia reacted with anger to the bill’s 400 pages.

“It’s a bunch of crap. It’s still a mess. It’s still a mess, and we are getting hit with a 400-page substitute at 1:30 today,” GOP state Senator Mark Peake said last week.

Todd Gilbert, House Speaker, blamed Democrats for leaving the cannabis law in disarray last fiscal year.

“We are left having to clean up their mess, and we will not make it worse by rushing to fix it,” Gilbert said, as quoted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The bill to move up the start date to September 15 was sponsored by Democratic state Senator Adam Ebbin, who said that the measure “ensures consumers can purchase safe, regulated products legally.”