Where does recreational marijuana stand in Virginia?

Lawmakers will consider Gov. Youngkin’s amendment, adding criminal penalties for marijuana possession

ROANOKE, Va. – On Wednesday, recreational marijuana advocates joined together in Roanoke for the first-ever Cannabis Family Reunion, an expo featuring vendors, informational talks, and medical cannabis resources.

It was organized by Clarissa Clarke, the founder of Bodhi Lounge, a new legal private cannabis lounge.

“A year ago on 4/20, nobody would be out in public celebrating that they are a cannabis user,” said Clarke.

In February, legislation that would have allowed the retail sale of recreational marijuana to begin later this year — two years sooner than planned — died in the Virginia General Assembly.

JM Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), a group fighting for marijuana legalization and reform, said it’s a setback.

“Unfortunately, until retail sales for adult use have been decided by the General Assembly, there will be no legal retail access outside of the state’s medical cannabis program.”

Though Pedini said getting approval for medical marijuana use will be easier starting July 1.

“Patients will no longer be required to register with the state after receiving the recommendation from a registered practitioner,” said Pedini.

Current Virginia law sets a $25 fine for public possession of more than one ounce but less than one pound. Anything more is a felony.

Just last week, Governor Glenn Youngkin proposed amendments to a cannabis-related bill that would add criminal penalties for certain marijuana possessions:

  • More than two but less than six ounces would be a Class 2 Misdemeanor.
  • Anything over six ounces and less than one pound could result in a Class 1 Misdemeanor

“These new proposed penalties would be harsher than the law was prior to decriminalization taking effect in 2020,” said Pedini.

State lawmakers will review the governor’s amendments next Wednesday. Democratic Delegate Sam ll said there’s a bipartisan push to roll out legal recreational marijuana safely.

“There will be a legalization process, it’s just going to take time to stand up the regulatory framework as we move forward,” said Del. Sam Rasoul.

The next time the General Assembly will take up the issue of the retail of recreational marijuana will be in 2023.

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You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

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