Virginia’s Senate and House have each advanced comprehensive marijuana reforms that will be tabled before a conference commission to come to a consensus regarding the final text. These reforms would’ve to be approved by both chambers again before heading to the Governor’s desk for a signature.
Based on a Center Square report, although both reforms would authorize marijuana sales starting in 2024, they have different provisions. For example, whether adults would need to be permitted to possess marijuana legally and whether marijuana industry’s applications will be subject to municipal control.
The reform would permit towns and cities to-opt out of trade sales and permit possession as early as 1st July. The House reform would decriminalize possession until sales begin and doesn’t feature opt-out provisions, however, retail sales would still need to adhere to zoning regulations.
The House reform also limits the number of marijuana industry licenses while Senate reform has zero restrictions.
Eileen Filler-Corn, the Democratic House Speaker, described the reform’s approval as transformational and historic along with the dissolution of Virginia’s death penalty.
Since neither reform ascended past both chambers, the disparities will be tackled in a compromise reform by a conference committee and voted upon again in both chambers. If passed, Virginia will be the first Southern territory to authorize recreational cannabis and third to approve bills through the Legislature, after Illinois and Vermont.
Virginia NORML’s executive director, Pedini Michelle Jenn, disclosed to WSLS that both Chambers have had their work done for them.
She said during an interview that the chambers have worked remarkably to ascend the reforms this far. She added that her department is confident that both chambers will tackle their differences and create a reform that they all like.
A legislature-needed report remitted last year concluded that cannabis authorization could yield up to $1.2B in the state’s economic operations and $274M in marijuana tax proceeds. However, it would require five years to attain these figures.