With Virginia lawmakers’ approval of Senate Bill 1406/House Bill 2312, home cultivation and personal possession of cannabis are set to become legal in the state this upcoming July. Now, ahead of legalization, several oversight groups are being put in place to help regulate the new market.
Three Groups Created to Oversee Virginia’s Legal Cannabis Program
On April 7th, Virginia joined fifteen other U.S. states – including New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico earlier this year – in legalizing adult-use marijuana. The approved bills allow Virginians to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to four plants for personal use, in addition to establishing the regulatory framework for retail sales of legal marijuana by 2024.
Virginia lawmakers are confident that establishing the market’s foundation early will lead to a better experience for consumers.
“We already know the market exists. Why not from a practical standpoint, increase the consumer safety of that product,” said Senator Jeremy McPike (D – District 29) to WWBT in Richmond.
The Virginia Cannabis Control Board will be overseeing the bulk of the new market – regulating the cultivation, manufacturing, and retail sale of legal cannabis products in the state. Governor Ralph Northam (D) is in charge of appointing the five members of the board, who will all play key roles in the licensing and operation of the state’s upcoming adult-use market.
“Licenses can be pulled [for] selling unpackaged stuff, selling a tainted product, any of those things, those could jeopardize that business’ license,” said McPike, emphasizing the responsibility the Cannabis Control Board will carry in enforcing safe business practices.
In addition to the Cannabis Control Board, Virginia lawmakers are also establishing a Public Health Advisory Board, consisting of 21 representatives from groups like the Virginia Pharmacists Association, the Medical Society of Virginia and the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth.
Overseeing the entirety of Virginia’s legalization process will be a “new Cannabis Oversight Commission consisting of 10 members of the General Assembly . . . This is a big change in Virginia law, a new industry is set up. [Lawmakers] want to make sure it’s safe,” added Sen. McPike.
Virginia will begin accepting license applications in July of 2023, with retail sales set to open that following January. According to a legislative report released by the Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group, initial projections for annual cannabis tax revenue fall between $154 million and $308 million.
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