Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios
When Virginia lawmakers voted nearly two years in the past to legalize marijuana, their 2024 goal date to start retail gross sales struck many as a very long time to attend.
What’s occurring: It is beginning to appear like it may not even occur in 2024.
State of play: Any laws authorizing retail gross sales in 2024 must go when the Normal Meeting convenes for the subsequent session in January.
- Meaning it might nonetheless should get previous the identical GOP majority that refused to offer the problem a listening to final session.
What they’re saying: “Nothing has modified that I am conscious of,” Garren Shipley, spokesperson for Home Speaker Todd Gilbert, tells Axios.
Catch up quick: Virginia lawmakers voted to legalize possession however not gross sales of leisure marijuana in July 2021.
- The choice to attend till 2024 to start retail gross sales was initially supposed to offer lawmakers and regulators a three-year runway to arrange the market, however earlier than Democrats finalized the plan, they misplaced management of the Home and governor’s workplace, thrusting the state into weed purgatory.
Sure, however: Some lobbyists engaged on legalization stay hopeful Senate Democrats and Home Republicans can attain an settlement on the problem.
- Greg Habeeb, a former GOP delegate who represents the Virginia Hashish Affiliation, says that final yr Republicans barely had a month to work on the problem between successful the bulk again and the start of the legislative session.
- “After we get to session subsequent yr, Republicans could have had a full yr of being in cost and finding out Republican options,” Habeeb says.
Between the traces: There are indicators some key Republicans are taking an curiosity within the challenge, with lawmakers representing agricultural areas taking the lead, together with Home Majority Chief Terry Kilgore.
- However even when the GOP does play ball this yr, the massive query shall be whether or not the 2 sides can “craft a model of the invoice that may choose up Republican assist with out shedding Democratic assist,” Habeeb says.
Virginia’s thriving illicit market
It might nonetheless be unlawful to purchase marijuana, however it’s by no means been simpler.
What’s occurring: The illicit market has moved from the shadows to social media, the place hashish entrepreneurs prepared to take a danger brazenly promote supply companies and pop-up occasions.
- Some sellers are even blanketing neighborhoods and occasions with enterprise playing cards.
What they’re saying: “Somebody got here as much as our sales space at Satisfaction and dropped off enterprise playing cards — it has their enterprise title and a technique of contact to purchase weed,” JM Pedini, the chief director of the legalization advocacy group Virginia NORML, tells Axios.
In the meantime, loads of brick-and-mortar outlets proceed to promote artificial THC merchandise regardless of warnings by state regulators and Lawyer Normal Jason Miyares.
- State meals security regulators mentioned they’ve carried out 2,500 inspections since July 1 to “to teach meals producers and retail meals institutions and encourage voluntary compliance,” based on a spokesman.
Why it issues: The proliferation of unregulated gross sales exposes individuals to untested and doubtlessly unsafe merchandise, Pedini mentioned.
What we’re watching: Lobbyists and legislators engaged on the problem inform us the booming illicit and grey market is the No. 1 case for getting Republicans on board with legalizing retail gross sales.
By the numbers: medical marijuana
With leisure retail gross sales nonetheless in limbo, the state’s 2-year-old medical hashish program stays the one authorized route for Virginians to purchase marijuana.
There are at the moment round 20,300 lively sufferers getting hashish merchandise within the state — a sixfold improve since Jan. 2021, Ngiste Abebe, vice chairman of public coverage at Columbia Care, tells Axios.
- Columbia Care controls two of the state’s 4 licenses to course of marijuana for medicinal use — gLeaf within the Richmond space and Cannabist in Hampton Roads.
Zoom in: Ache, nervousness and insomnia are the commonest causes sufferers search a prescription, Abebe tells Axios.
Anecdotally, the common affected person in Virginia appears to be a 55-year-old girl, Abebe says.
The newest: Columbia Care has two new dispensaries opening within the coming weeks — one in Williamsburg and one within the former Want Provide retailer in Carytown.
- Dispensaries in Colonial Heights and close to Chesterfield City Heart space additionally within the works domestically, however there is not any timeline but for these to open.
- gLeaf can also be taking a look at opening dispensaries in Ashland or the East Finish, Richmond BizSense reported.