Republicans in the Virginia House blocked a measure that would have allowed limited retail sales of recreational marijuana to start later this year.
On a 5-3 party-line vote, the subcommittee voted to hold off on the measure until next year.
Virginians can legally share marijuana, grow it at home and seek a medical license. However, there is no regulatory structure for retail sales.
Ebbin’s bill would have allowed existing medical marijuana providers a limited number of industrial hemp processors to start selling recreational marijuana in mid-September, more than a year before the full retail market would have opened in 2024.
Both Republicans and Democrats expressed support for moving up the date for retail sales to try and prevent growth in the illicit market.
JM Pedini, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says Virginia had the fourth-largest illicit cannabis market in 2020, valued at $1.8 billion.
“This is a huge disappointment for so many Virginians who were hopeful that sales could begin as early as September of this year,” Pedini adds.
Republicans say legalizing marijuana without putting a retail structure in place made a mess, and they don’t want to rush to fix it.