Monday, December 5 2022

A House of Delegates subcommittee on Monday rejected legislation that would have allowed recreational marijuana sales to begin in September.

The law project, who had passed the Democratic-controlled Senate last week died in a party vote, with Republicans opposed.

“I think it’s a bigger problem than we can fix in two weeks,” Del said. 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 this illicit market,” Del said. 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 legalizing recreational sales. Democrats had originally set a goal of opening sales in 2024 but decided over the summer it was too long to wait, citing concerns that people were openly flouting the ban sales imposed by the state.

Marijuana is still illegal for sale in Virginia, but that’s not stopping retailers (including a senator)

Currently, the only legal way to obtain marijuana in Virginia is to grow it, give it as a gift, or buy it at a medical dispensary with a prescription.

The politics became more complex after Democrats lost their majority in the House of Delegates in the November election, leaving Republicans opposed to legalization to negotiate a final deal.

Entering the legislative session, Republicans said they would address the issue, casting it as a mess Democrats let them clean. But as the session progressed, it became clear that the House GOP caucus was unable to reach internal consensus on the issue.

The chamber has never registered any GOP bills that would have advanced legalization alongside Republican priorities, such as devoting new tax revenue to building schools.

With Monday’s vote, Republicans have vowed to revisit the issue next year, making mid to late 2023 the first retail sales could begin.

“Virginia Democrats made a big mess when they legalized marijuana without putting in place a regulatory or retail structure,” House Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said in a tweet. “We have yet to clean up their mess and we won’t make it worse by rushing to fix it.”

House Republicans pushed forward legislation proposed by Del. Emmet Hanger, R-Augusta, who regulate sales of delta-8 THC products, which give users a similar high to traditional marijuana, but whose producers claim are technically legal under state and federal laws.

The products have appeared in specialty stores, gas stations and health markets.

Hanger’s bill would unambiguously ban sales until the recreational marijuana market opens.

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