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Virginia governor vetoes marijuana market bill

“The proposed legalization of retail marijuana in the Commonwealth endangers Virginians’ health and safety,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in his veto statement.

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A push to establish a legal marijuana market in Virginia is officially dead after Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed legislation on Thursday.

Virginia has allowed adults over 21 to possess and cultivate cannabis at home since the Legislature passed legalization legislation in 2021. But the law required another vote to implement commercial sales, which failed after Republicans won the House of Delegates later that year.

“The proposed legalization of retail marijuana in the Commonwealth endangers Virginians’ health and safety,” Youngkin said in his veto statement. “It also does not eliminate the illegal black-market sale of cannabis, nor guarantee product safety.”

The context: Pro-legalization advocates were hopeful that a marijuana regulation bill could make it to the finish line this year after Democrats won back the House of Delegates last November.

While Youngkin has historically opposed efforts to liberalize marijuana laws, the marijuana sales bill was poised to be used as a bargaining chip by Democrats in budget negotiations over one of Youngkin’s top priorities: A $2 billion stadium deal to bring the Washington Capitals and Wizards to Northern Virginia.

But earlier this month, the final budget enacted by Virginia’s Legislature did not contain funding for the “Glenn Dome,” as Democratic Senate Finance and Appropriations Chair Sen. Louise Lucas dubbed the project.

Pro-legalization advocates still believed they had a chance to negotiate with the governor ahead of the Legislature’s April 17 veto session. But on Wednesday, the city of Alexandria said a proposal to develop the arena there “ will not move forward.”

Democratic Del. Paul Krizek, the lead sponsor of the weed marketplace bill, blasted the governor’s veto.

“Governor Youngkin’s failure to act allows an already thriving illegal cannabis market to persist, fueling criminal activity and endangering our communities,” he said in a statement. “This veto squandered a vital opportunity to safeguard Virginians and will only exacerbate the proliferation of illicit products, posing greater risks to our schools and public safety.”

What’s next: Pro-legalization advocates, including the state’s medical marijuana providers, will no doubt continue their efforts to establish adult-use sales in the Commonwealth in the next legislative session.

Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis inked a deal that would keep the teams in the District until 2050, the Washington Post reported.



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