VA Lawmakers Review New GOP-Led Marijuana Sales Bill, Here's What It Says & Why Some Don't Like It

Virginians are approaching the second anniversary of having legalized marijuana, yet a framework for legal sales is still in the making.

To that end, a GOP lawmaker wrapped up 2022 by introducing a measure under which a regulated commercial market in the Commonwealth would kick off in 2024, reported WDBJ.

Introduced by Republican Delegate Keith Hodges (R-Gloucester), the bill seeks to amend regulatory provisions that were a part of the cannabis legislation signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in 2021.

Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize adult-use cannabis after lawmakers approved several changes to cannabis bills SB 1406 and HB 2312, initially proposed by Northam.

Even though Hodges' HB 1464 represents a step toward launching recreational sales, specific provisions of the measure are frowned upon by cannabis advocates.


The new bill seeks to eliminate elements in it that seek to address social equity applicants, more precisely to prioritize any applicant who is looking to operate in areas that have been economically disadvantaged instead of giving priority to those who are from these areas.

The new measure would also remove language requesting multi-license holders to lay out their plan for promoting diversity and equity.

In addition, the new legislation would delete the language seeking to allocate 30% of tax revenue to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund.

"It's a major shift to replace policies empowering people in communities harmed by the drug war with new financial benefits for corporations who locate their businesses in disadvantaged areas—essentially bringing in outside companies to target poor people for profit," Shaleen Title, founder of the Parabola Center told Marijuana Moment. "These predatory tactics are neither new nor equitable."

It's A 'Smart Bill' After All

However, JM Pedini, NORML's development director, praised Hodges' measure.

"This is a smart bill carefully constructed by Delegate Hodges for the best chance of success in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates," Pedini said.

The measure also stipulates that the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority has to advance rules to enact the law by September 1, 2023, while new licenses are being issued starting July 1, 2024.

The General Assembly session in Virginia is scheduled to begin on January 11.

Interestingly, in the 2022 session, during which Republicans were in charge in the House of Delegates and the Governor's office, the issue of marijuana legalization has not been tackled.

Instead, lawmakers took a few steps in the opposite direction by seeking to criminalize cannabis consumers, despite the overwhelming support Virginians have shown for marijuana.

According to the proposition, which came with a two-year state budget, revealed in early 2022 that the possession of over 4 ounces of cannabis in public would be considered a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a criminal record.

Photo: Courtesy of geralt and Kindel Media by Pixabay

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