Virginia Fails To Establish Legal Marijuana Market

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joint and nug Virginia
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Virginia will have to wait for a legal weed market

Virginia may be the first state in the South to legalize marijuana possession, but actually getting a hold of the drug hasn’t gotten any easier.

Why it matters: Virginia will not have a legal marijuana market this year. Legislators are unlikely to take up the issue again until their regular session next year.

Driving the news: The Virginia legislative session ended in a stalemate this past weekend after legislators failed to establish a legal retail market, Axios’ Ned Oliver reports.

They also pushed to defund the state’s new Cannabis Control Authority, which was established to regulate the marijuana market.

Marijuana is legal to possess (up to one ounce in public), grow (no more than four plants), and gift (but not in the D.C. way). But it’s still a felony to sell the plant outside of the state’s medical marijuana program, and there is no legal avenue for recreational retail sales.

Democratic lawmakers — who two years ago voted along party lines to legalize marijuana possession — planned to establish a legal retail market by 2024, but then lost control of the House of Delegates and the governor’s office in 2021.

During the session, lawmakers cracked down on hemp-based synthetic THC products that have proliferated in tobacco shops and gas stations — a top priority of Gov. Youngkin’s.

This means hemp-derived products will be subject to a more robust permitting process and a limit on how much THC can be in each product, per the Virginia Mercury.

Proponents of the new hemp rules say they’re a step towards a safer consumer market, reports the Virginia Mercury, and Youngkin is likely to sign the measure.

“I think people who want to see progress on legalized sales for cannabis need to remember this election year which party has stood in the way,” Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, tells Axios.