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Republicans Have Virginia Going Backwards on Cannabis

February 27, 2023

7:10 am

Beard Bros Media

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Virginia made history in 2021 as the first Southern state to legalize adult-use cannabis. Still, the state’s progress could come to a screeching halt with Republican lawmakers moving to defund the state’s cannabis regulatory agency, the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA), and killing a regulatory bill that would have helped launch the state’s adult-use market. These actions have generated uncertainty in the industry and put the future of legal cannabis sales in Virginia in jeopardy.

The Two-Party System And Cannabis Policy

The move by Virginia’s Republicans to defund the CCA and halt regulatory efforts for the state’s adult-use market highlights one of the most significant issues with cannabis policy in the United States: the two-party system. With each party taking a different stance on cannabis, the future of legalization and regulation can change drastically depending on which party is in power. Virginia’s situation is a perfect example of how a change in government can bring about swift changes in cannabis policy.

Cannabis Policy In Virginia

Virginia had a limited medical marijuana program since 2020 before legalizing adult-use cannabis in 2021. The legalization bill was signed into law by the state’s former governor, a Democrat, with sales expected to begin on January 1, 2024. However, with the new governor, a Republican, in power, Virginia’s future with cannabis is in jeopardy. The Republican governor has shown more interest in regulating products containing intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids like delta-8 THC than implementing an adult-use market.

Republicans Move To Defund The CCA

The Virginia House Republicans have proposed a state spending plan that would cut nearly 70% of the CCA’s budget, which is a significant blow to the regulatory agency tasked with implementing the state’s adult-use program. The proposed budget amendment is still subject to negotiations in the coming days, but it has created uncertainty and fear within the industry.

The acting head of the CCA, Jeremy Preiss, told Richmond TV station WRIC via email that the agency was caught off guard by the potential budget cuts, adding that they “could undermine the regulation of medical cannabis and initiatives that address public health risks associated with marijuana legalization.”