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Virginia won’t see recreational marijuana sales begin in Jan. 2024

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VIRGINIA – The new year means new laws take effect in Virginia.

Starting Jan. 1, the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority will take control of the Commonwealth’s medical cannabis program.

However, the initial plan to begin recreational marijuana retail will not happen at the start of the new year.

When the Virginia General Assembly first legalized cannabis back in 2021, the goal was to begin retail sales on Jan. 1, 2024. However, proposed bills aimed at regulating sales failed in 2022 and again in 2023. That means there’s no legal way for adults to purchase marijuana for recreational use in Virginia.

JM Pedini, the executive director of Virginia NORML, said the delay has negative consequences.

“We haven’t moved on to fulfilling the remainder of the policy measures and those that arguably have the greatest impact on public and consumer safety,” said Pedini. “What we’ve seen is an explosion of the illicit market.”

Under current law, people 21 and over can have up to an ounce of cannabis on them or grow up to four plants in their homes.

Nancy Hans, the executive director of the Partnership for Community Wellness, said she’s concerned about the impact on teenagers and kids.

“The train sort of left the station with no guardrail,” said Hans.

The 2021 law created the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority to oversee the possession, sale, and distribution of retail marijuana.

Hans said the safeguards still aren’t in place and hopes lawmakers take a closer look.

“It’s good that they’re pushing things back because we need to get this right,” said Hans.

Pedini remains hopeful a regulated recreational market is in Virginia’s future.

“Hopefully, this session, with Democrats having control of both chambers, they’ll be able to do just that,” said Pedini.


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