Virginia lawmakers block cannabis rescheduling bill

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The Senate had no trouble following nationwide standards, but the House strikes out

While the Virginia Senate appeared to have no problem with marijuana rescheduling legislation and its respective sales, Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives took it upon themselves to bury any illusions. The bill seeking to initiate adult-use cannabis sales hit a major roadblock yesterday.

GOP-controlled House committees in the House of Delegates did not give the go-ahead to the measure intended to reschedule marijuana and officially launch its sale in the state of Virginia. Senator Adam Ebbin had already solidified a victory in the Senate in a vote in favor of his measure, but the House General Laws subcommittee defeated the marijuana commerce legislation.

A proposal to create a “Cannabis Incubator Project” in the state also passed into oblivion after the General Laws subcommittee decision. This measure was intended to support small cannabis businesses through social equity programs.

Ebbin sought through his bill to have recreational cannabis sales begin as early as 2024. It is important to remember that two years ago, the legislature approved legislation to legalize the possession and home cultivation of marijuana by adults over the age of 21, initiating a regulatory framework for a commercial market. Ebbin planned to bolster that market through sales at existing medical marijuana dispensaries and businesses operated by people who were affected by the war on drugs.

“We are dragging our feet on establishing a retail market that could provide hundreds of millions in tax revenue,” Ebbin said during yesterday’s hearing. Had the sales become a reality next January 1, tax revenues from this activity would have supported reinvestment programs for preschool education for at-risk youth, historically economically disadvantaged communities, and addiction prevention services. None of this appears to be on the horizon.