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A 54-page bill setting rules and taxes for the legal sale of marijuana to adults passed the House of Delegates on Monday, while a similar measure is slated to face a final up or down state Senate vote on Tuesday.

But they face a skeptical Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has said he has no interest in approving a mechanism for retail sales of marijuana.

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A cannabis plant sits under a grow light at the East Coast Connoisseur Cup, a cannabis competition among local growers hosted at HomeGrown VA in July. A 54-page bill setting rules and taxes for the legal sale of marijuana to adults passed the House of Delegates on Monday.

Mike Kropf, TIMES-DISPATCH

A law setting rules and taxes for marijuana sales is a priority of the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly. Youngkin’s unwillingness to discuss the issue is one reason Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, cited for the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee’s refusal to take up Youngkin’s push for an arena and performing arts center development in Alexandria.

Del. Jay Leftwich, R-Chesapeake, said that after setting up its legal marijuana market, Colorado has seen an increase in poison center calls and drug abuse.

Leftwich

Virginia House of Delegates

He said Virginia has already seen these trends emerge after legalizing adult possession of small amounts of marijuana. He also warned that dealers in Virginia are lacing marijuana with fentanyl, a drug that can be fatal in tiny amounts.

“European counties that have embraced this have begun to think again,” Leftwich said.

Krizek

Virginia House of Delegates

The bill’s sponsor, Del. Paul Krizek, D-Fairfax, replied: “We already have an $4 billion illegal, illicit market. Let’s deal with it.”

He said his bill would deal with issues Leftwich raised, including consumption by minors and adulteration.

The bill says the state Cannabis Control Authority could begin issuing licenses for manufacture and sale of marijuana on July 1, 2025.

The authority would establish requirements for packaging and labeling, including details about the total percentage and milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol included in the product and the number of milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in each package and serving. Labeling would include prominent child and safety warnings.

In addition, the authority would be empowered to conduct annual investigations of manufacturers’ and retailers’ facilities.

The number of licenses any one entity could hold would be limited to six.

Background checks would be required.

County supervisors and city and town councils would be able to hold referendums to see if residents want to allow or ban marijuana retail facilities.

The authority would have to implement a plan to encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from historically economically disadvantaged communities.

The state would levy a 4.5% tax on marijuana sales, and localities could levy an additional 4.5% tax.

Youngkin has given strong indications that he would not sign such a measure.

He told reporters last month: “I just don’t have a lot of interest in pressing forward with marijuana legislation.”

Following the House vote, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia State Police Association and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association sent a letter to all 140 members of the General Assembly saying that legalizing retail sales would undermine Youngkin’s efforts to improve Virginia’s behavioral health system.

“A retail market in Virginia will mean an increase in crime, arrests, DUI’s with no significant change in tax revenue,” the letter said.

Dave Ress (804) 649-6948

dress@timesdispatch.com

“}]] The House of Delegates backed legislation setting up a framework for legal marijuana sales. The Senate considers its bill on Tuesday. Gov. Glenn Youngkin is not interested in the idea.  Read More  

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