Republican members of the House General Laws Subcommittee halted any further advancement today of Senate Bill 1133, which sought to initiate retail marijuana sales to adults age 21 and older beginning this July. Though the bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, Subcommittee members rejected the measure on a 5 to 3 party line vote.
NORML Development Director JM Pedini said that today’s vote “was entirely expected, but is still disappointing, and it spotlights House Republicans’ continued failure of leadership on cannabis policy.” Pedini noted that members of the GOP-led House also failed to advance multiple cannabis retail sales bills out of their own chamber.
Virginia’s legalization law, enacted in 2021 at a time when Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and Governorship, called for retail cannabis sales to begin no later than January 1, 2024. Absent passage of additional legislation this year establishing rules and regulations for state-licensed retailers, sales will not be permitted to begin by this deadline.
“Without access to a regulated marketplace, consumers won’t know whether they’re getting a safe, tested product or one contaminated with potentially dangerous adulterants,” said NORML’s Pedini, who also serves as Virginia NORML Executive Director.
Under state law, adults 21 and older may legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana in public and cultivate up to four plants per household for personal use. However, retail sales in Virginia are currently permitted only to qualified medical patients.
“This vote is another huge disappointment for Virginians, the majority of whom favor swift access to retail sales,” added Pedini. “Legislation providing regulatory oversight is the best way for the Commonwealth to protect cannabis consumers. By failing to take legislative action, lawmakers are electing to continue driving consumers to the unregulated, underground market.”
Legislation to improve Virginia’s medical cannabis program is still still pending in the House of Delegates and Senate.
Additional information is available from Virginia NORML.