Both Virginia’s marijuana and hemp markets are in serious disarray, thanks to regulatory uncertainty handed down by the state’s Republican leadership. Now the previously expected launch of recreational marijuana sales in January 2024 is in more serious doubt than ever.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has long dodged taking a solid stance on cannabis, “has stated that he is not interested in any further moves towards legalization of adult recreational-use marijuana,” Joseph Guthrie, state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services chief, said recently, The Daily Progress reported.
“I wouldn’t expect that during his administration,” Guthrie said of an operational recreational marijuana market.
Recreational marijuana legalization was one of the final acts of Virginia Democrats in 2021 while they still controlled both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion, but they lost the House of Delegates and the governor’s race that fall to Republicans.
The law included key reenactment clauses, which required further legislation to structure a regulated marketplace for companies to sell marijuana. Possession and consumption became legal in 2021, which led directly to an underground market that is difficult for law enforcement to control.
Since taking power, Youngkin and other Republicans have repeatedly stalled the reenactment legislation, all while the governor insists he has no desire to roll back legalization itself.
Meanwhile, the Youngkin administration has pursued a crackdown of Virginia’s hemp market, which has left some business owners with precious little in legal goods to sell, The Virginian Pilot reported. And new state hemp regulations have eradicated swaths of CBD products by banning anything with a greater than 25-to-1 CBD:THC ratio, enacting new labeling rules, and establishing massive fines for companies that break the new rules.