When Virginia lawmakers voted virtually two years in the past to legalize marijuana, their 2024 goal date to start retail gross sales struck many as a very long time to attend.
What’s occurring: It is beginning to appear to be it may not even occur in 2024.
State of play: Any laws authorizing retail gross sales in 2024 must move when the Basic Meeting convenes for the following session in January.
- Meaning it might nonetheless should get previous the identical GOP majority that refused to provide the difficulty a listening to final session.
What they’re saying: “Nothing has modified that I am conscious of,” Garren Shipley, spokesperson for Home Speaker Todd Gilbert, tells Axios.
Catch up quick: Virginia lawmakers voted to legalize possession however not gross sales of leisure marijuana in July 2021.
- The choice to attend till 2024 to start retail gross sales was initially supposed to provide lawmakers and regulators a three-year runway to arrange the market, however earlier than Democrats finalized the plan, they misplaced management of the Home and governor’s workplace, thrusting the state into weed purgatory.
Sure, however: Some lobbyists engaged on legalization stay hopeful Senate Democrats and Home Republicans can attain an settlement on the difficulty.
- Greg Habeeb, a former GOP delegate who represents the Virginia Hashish Affiliation, says that final yr Republicans barely had a month to work on the difficulty between successful the bulk again and the start of the legislative session.
- “Once we get to session subsequent yr, Republicans may have had a full yr of being in cost and finding out Republican options,” Habeeb says.
Between the strains: There are indicators some key Republicans are taking an curiosity within the problem, with lawmakers representing agricultural areas taking the lead, together with Home Majority Chief Terry Kilgore.
- However even when the GOP does play ball this yr, the large query will probably be whether or not the 2 sides can “craft a model of the invoice that may choose up Republican assist with out dropping Democratic assist,” Habeeb says.
Virginia’s thriving illicit market
It could nonetheless be unlawful to purchase marijuana, but it surely’s by no means been simpler.
What’s occurring: The illicit market has moved from the shadows to social media, the place hashish entrepreneurs keen to take a danger overtly promote supply companies and pop-up occasions.
- Some sellers are even blanketing neighborhoods and occasions with enterprise playing cards.
What they’re saying: “Somebody got here as much as our sales space at Pleasure and dropped off enterprise playing cards — it has their enterprise identify and a technique of contact to purchase weed,” JM Pedini, the chief director of the legalization advocacy group Virginia NORML, tells Axios.
In the meantime, loads of brick-and-mortar retailers proceed to promote artificial THC merchandise regardless of warnings by state regulators and Legal professional Basic Jason Miyares.
- State meals security regulators stated they’ve carried out 2,500 inspections since July 1 to “to teach meals producers and retail meals institutions and encourage voluntary compliance,” in response to a spokesman.
Why it issues: The proliferation of unregulated gross sales exposes folks to untested and doubtlessly unsafe merchandise, Pedini stated.
What we’re watching: Lobbyists and legislators engaged on the difficulty inform us the booming illicit and grey market is the No. 1 case for getting Republicans on board with legalizing retail gross sales.
By the numbers: medical marijuana
With leisure retail gross sales nonetheless in limbo, the state’s 2-year-old medical hashish program stays the one authorized route for Virginians to purchase marijuana.
There are presently round 20,300 energetic sufferers getting hashish merchandise within the state — a sixfold enhance since Jan. 2021, Ngiste Abebe, vice chairman of public coverage at Columbia Care, tells Axios.
- Columbia Care controls two of the state’s 4 licenses to course of marijuana for medicinal use — gLeaf within the Richmond space and Cannabist in Hampton Roads.
Zoom in: Ache, nervousness and insomnia are the most typical causes sufferers search a prescription, Abebe tells Axios.
Anecdotally, the common affected person in Virginia appears to be a 55-year-old lady, Abebe says.
The most recent: Columbia Care has two new dispensaries opening within the coming weeks — one in Williamsburg and one within the former Want Provide retailer in Carytown.
- Dispensaries in Colonial Heights and close to Chesterfield City Heart space additionally within the works regionally, however there is no timeline but for these to open.
- gLeaf can be opening dispensaries in Ashland or the East Finish, Richmond BizSense reported.