Virginia Moves Forward with Separate Bills on Cannabis Sales Regulation

In a significant step toward regulating and taxing recreational marijuana sales, both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have passed competing bills, marking progress more than two years after the state’s legalization of cannabis possession for adults. Now, each bill faces further consideration and potential amendments in the opposite legislative chamber.

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), both bills permit retail cannabis sales to adults aged 21 and older, slated to commence on January 1, 2025. Delegate Paul Krizek’s HB 698 proposes a 9% tax on cannabis sales, exempt from standard state and local retail sales taxes. In contrast, Senator Aaron Rouse’s SB 448 suggests adding a 16% tax to cannabis sales on top of regular retail sales taxes.

JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director, testified in support of the bills before both legislative chambers. In the Senate, Pedini advocated for amending SB 448 to eliminate penalties for individuals producing cannabis products for personal use and possessing legal amounts in public.

HB 698 passed the House with a 52-48 vote, while SB 448 was approved by the Senate with a 21-18 vote. Now, each bill proceeds to the opposite legislative chamber for further deliberation.

Lawmakers are anticipated to amend the bills before finalizing them, eventually convening in a conference committee to reconcile differences and develop a compromise measure.

Pedini, also the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, emphasized the significance of the conference committee’s role in crafting a bill acceptable to all parties, including Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Virginia initially legalized cannabis possession for adults in July 2021. However, the enactment of retail sales was delayed pending further legislative action. Governor Youngkin has expressed reluctance towards legalization, a sentiment echoed by law enforcement representatives who oppose a regulated adult-use cannabis market.

Opponents argue that legalizing retail sales may undermine efforts to address behavioral health issues and could fail to eliminate the illicit cannabis market. Pedini countered these claims, citing the significant growth of Virginia’s illicit cannabis market since legalization.

With Governor Youngkin’s stance on legalization uncertain, the decision to regulate adult-use cannabis sales in Virginia remains a focal point for policymakers, balancing concerns about public health, safety, and economic impact.


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment