Republicans in the GOP-controlled Virginia House of Delegates have again torpedoed a bill that would have launched a recreational cannabis market in the state next year, possibly killing the last chance the existing medical marijuana industry had of starting adult-use sales in the near future.
On a party-line 5-3 vote, a House subcommittee tabled the bill indefinitely, the Associated Press reported, which leaves the state with a potentially massive gray market, since possession and home cultivation of marijuana is legal, but retail sales are not.
The move is the second this year so far by Virginia Republicans to kill legislation aimed at allowing adult-use sales, the AP reported, after the same subcommittee tabled a bill that would have directed the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority to start drafting regulations for a recreational marijuana market.
Virginia is in a political quandary because legalization was enacted under former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam when his party controlled both the House and Senate. But Northam was replaced by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2021, the same year Democrats lost the House, and the Democratic bill that legalized recreational cannabis contained a re-enactment clause that required follow-up legislation.
Now, Republicans and Democrats can’t find common ground in order to get an adult-use market off the ground.
Youngkin is more interested in cracking down on the unregulated delta-8 market, and a spokesman for his office reiterated that position to the subcommittee this week before the adult-use cannabis bill died. Youngkin has repeatedly declined to take a clear position on recreational marijuana, which has led to confusion among industry advocates about what to expect from Virginia lawmakers.
The AP reported there are still two GOP bills alive in the legislature that could authorize recreational marijuana sales, but it’s unclear what the chances are of getting either through the Democratic state Senate.
The AP further reported that the question of an adult use market could go to a conference committee between the Senate and House, but ABC 8 News reported that the issue is likely dead for the year.