Members of the House General Laws Subcommittee failed to advance legislation to legalize and regulate the retail sale of cannabis products to adults age 21 and older. Committee members rejected two separate legislative measures, HB 1750 and HB 1464, late Tuesday evening. Republicans currently control the Virginia House of Delegates by a margin of 52 to 48. Similar legislation is still pending in the Democrat-controlled Senate, SB 1133.
NORML Development Director JM Pedini, said that Tuesday’s vote represented “another stunning failure of leadership on cannabis policy.”
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.
“Absent a regulated marketplace, consumers of cannabis products don’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.
The personal possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis by adults 21 and older is already permitted in Virginia under the 2021 legalization law.
“This session may very well be 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.”