On Tuesday, a recently-formed Virginia Senate cannabis subcommittee held an initial hearing about authorizing cannabis within the Commonwealth.
Although legislators didn’t vote on the policy, they used public testimony and posed queries to state representatives about various regulatory aspects of the reform. The commission gave an unofficial response on major aspects such as which department will be in charge of controlling the legal market and how members of the advisory board would be selected.
Last week, Governor Northam Ralph unveiled the bill and was instantly mulled over by the Senate Social Services and Rehabilitation Committee. The reform would set up a system for taxed and regulated cannabis sales and production. It would allow 21 and older adults to buy and possess not more than an ounce of marijuana and cultivate not more than four crops, two have to be mature.
The House and Senate leaders are supporting reform and it’s slated for a second hearing on Wednesday by the Senate Rehabilitation Cannabis Sub-commission. After that, the panel will ascend formal revisions for legislation.
After the subcommittee summits, the entire Revalidation commission will vote on Friday to approve the legislation before being tabled before the Judiciary Committee. It will then be referred to the Finance Caucus before arriving at the Senate floor.
Senator Ebbin Adam, one of the top bill’s sponsors, said that officials know that marijuana prohibition has failed in the United States and the Commonwealth and over the past years several Virginians have been called criminals and incarcerated.
On the issue of which department should control the program, legislators were largely split. However, more members showed interest in launching a new independent department for the task instead of leaving regulation to the state’s ABC, Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.
The debate focused on which strategy would be more equitable and proficient and allow the legal cannabis market to be available online quickly.