The cannabis community is certainly pleased to see that the state of Virginia has legalized adult-use cannabis, but it will be some time before sales can begin. Still, despite support for the legislation it looked to be a nail-biter to the end. The Virginia House and Senate lawmakers were in agreement on passing the law, but they differed on just exactly what it would look like.
The two sides have been working over the past few weeks to reach a compromise, which was beginning to look less possible. Then on Saturday, it seemed the law just managed to squeak through. Marijuana Moment reported, “The Senate voted 20-19 to approve the conference committee report on its bill as well as the identical version for the House legislation. The House voted to approve the conference report on its bill, 48-43, with two abstentions. When considering the Senate version, the House voted 47-44, with one abstention.”
The next stop for the legislation goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports legalization. However, it will be some time before Virginians will actually be able to purchase adult-use cannabis in the state.
Sales Begin January 1, 2024
Part of the compromise included a compromise towards having enough time to create the program’s regulations. Marijuana Moment reported that “The Senate has pushed for a reenactment clause to be included which would extend the process into next session, whereas the House side wanted to complete legislative work during the current session, arguing that enough research has already been done to effectively decide the issue. But Senate negotiators won out, meaning that the legislature will revisit cannabis regulations and post-legalization penalty structures next session.
Another major area of contention dealt with how the state would approach cannabis possession in the time between the bill’s signing and implementation of legal sales going into effect. Under both versions, the adult-use market wouldn’t launch until January 1, 2024 to give the state time to establish a regulatory agency to oversee the program. While the Senate had wanted to make the legalization of simple possession and home cultivation take effect starting on July 1 of this year, negotiators ultimately agreed to delay it to coincide with commercialization in 2024.”
One company that was intently focused on the outcome of this legislature was Jushi Holdings (OTC: JUSHF). In the fall of 2020, Jushi, through its 100% owned Virginia-based pharmaceutical process permit holder, Dalitso LLC, started operations at its 93,000 sq. ft. cultivation, manufacturing, processing and retail facility in Manassas, and opened the first of six dispensaries operating under the company’s retail brand, BEYOND / HELLO on December 1, 2020. Dalitso is currently one of only five applicants to have received approval for a pharmaceutical processor permit issued by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, and the designated area for Dalitso to operate is Health Service Area II, in Northern Virginia, which has a population of approximately 2.5 million people or nearly 30% of the state’s population. This area includes two of Virginia’s most densely populated counties, Fairfax and Prince William County.
“The adult-use cannabis legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly is a critically important first step on the path toward legalization,” said Jushi CEO and Founder Jim Cacioppo. “These bills begin to accomplish fundamental justice and equity priorities as well as promote public health. Jushi appreciates the General Assembly’s commitment to address these complex issues, especially the passion shown by Senators Adam Ebbin and Louise Lucas and Delegate Charniele Herring in answering Governor Ralph Northam’s call for legalization.
Adding flower to Virginia’s medical cannabis program is a critical advance and Jushi applauds Delegate Cliff Hayes and Senator Louise Lucas on this achievement. We expect that around the end of the year, this new legislation will allow pharmaceutical processors to make medicines available at much lower price point and expand access to patients who could otherwise not afford sustained medical cannabis therapy.”