What in the world is going on in Virginia cannabis?

October 4, 2022 | Written By Eric Postow

Since the Virginia legislature failed to reenact the 2021 cannabis legalization law that legalized adult use and established the framework for an adult-use retail market, Virginians have been paying the price. 

The 2021 law contained the now infamous line, “shall not become effective unless reenacted by the 2022 Session of the General Assembly." We now know exactly what that means. The 2022 legislative session came and went, and the best we got was some attempts at an expedited market, which largely left out the majority of hopeful Virginian participants not named big cannabis or big hemp. Governor Youngkin then decided to wield the executive power of unilateral decision-making in his 2022 budget by recriminalizing possession of cannabis over four ounces in public. Never mind that this was done outside the democratic processes of the legislature, and consider the incoherent messaging being sent to Virginians. On the one hand, the Commonwealth invites you to grow up to four plants in your homes, to consume as you wish so long as you are over the age of 21, but forbids you from purchasing it unless you are a medical patient, oh and if you happen to be moving and you bring enough of your personal grown cannabis with you in your car to your new home, you can be arrested. 

Here are some of the current outcomes of failing to establish the regulations for Virginia's adult use market:

The demand for cannabis has not shrunk as a result of Virginia's political debacle. Quite the contrary, Virginia's illicit market has grown to epic proportions! 

Virginians are being arrested for cannabis offenses, including what they grow at their homes. 

Some localities are starting to take matters into their own hands and prepare for what many still think will be a thriving regulated market. 

There is confusion over the enforcement of current laws, including employment laws. 

The idea that a state can legalize only parts of the cannabis industry is proving to be absurd. By legalizing possession and consumption without the means to purchase through retail, the demand is being met by other means. This has set up a spiral of predictable negative outcomes that will only get worse as time goes on without clear legislation establishing the comprehensive adult-use market. 

For those who are watching from the sidelines, perhaps now is the time to get involved. After all, it is your market. Reach out to our attorneys to find out more about what's going on in Virginia and in other states. 

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