Bill to adjust timeline of recreational marijuana sale in Va. legislature

FILE A cannibis bud is ready for processing at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in Richmond, Va., Thursday, June 17, 2021. Republican lawmakers in Virginia who opposed legalizing simple possession of marijuana say they don't want to scrap the law, but they do want to make significant changes. (AP Photo/Steve Helber/FILE) (Steve Helber, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. – A bill moving up the timeline of the recreational sale of marijuana has passed the Virginia Senate. There’s no guarantee it will pass the House of Representatives or be signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin, but if it does, there’s concern it would crush many small businesses in the commonwealth, according to a report by NBC 29.

“We’re making these crazy huge decisions that affect Virginians, you know, it’s a scary situation,” Albemarle Seed and Greener Things CBD Dispensary Owner Nick Candelora said.

This bill would move the timeline of recreational sale from January of 2024 to this September, but only at dispensaries that are already licensed to sell weed medically and a few large hemp manufacturers.

“Those social equity applicants, small businesses, especially women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses that want to break into this cannabis space and really provide good quality products to consumers,” Skyline Apothecary Owner Jane Hammel said. “I think that this does lend an unfair advantage to large corporations.”

“I don’t think medical companies should be allowed to sell recreationally until everybody’s allowed to sell recreational. I think that’s the only fair way of figuring this out,” Candelora said.

These business owners say allowing recreational sale for medical dispensaries over a year before small businesses get licensure has many negatives.

“Having those organizations be legally able to grow their customer base to sell recreationally in many different storefronts in the areas that they’re in, naturally, is going to make it harder for smaller businesses to attract those customers when they are able to open,” Hammel said.

“It definitely stings a little bit when their initial response was fair and equitable and then your local players like veterans, people of color, minorities, people who are really trying to bootstrap this, it’s kind of a slap in the face,” Skooma Owner David Treccariche said.

These business owners say this is still a wait-and-see game, but in the end, 16 months of sales from medical companies that aren’t based in Virginia, will take its toll.

“It’s simple economics,” Candelora said. “If you send millions of dollars out of the state each day what do you think is going to happen to small businesses that are located here.”

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