A group of Republican lawmakers from the Virginia House prevented a measure that would reportedly allow recreational marijuana sales in the state, notes the Associated Press. The vote happened on Monday, February 28, 2022.

Following a 5 to 3 vote, the House would move the measure to continue instead in 2023. This would leave the cannabis industry in Virginia to remain stagnant for yet another year or so, reports The Washington Post.

According to Marijuana Moment, the news comes after the said legislation had successfully passed the Democratic-dominated Senate in the past week.

Lawmakers Stop Measure to Allow Marijuana Sales

Under the proposed measure, the bill would have allowed current medical marijuana providers in the market access to industrial hemp processors and would have allowed them to start selling adult-use recreational cannabis come mid-September this year.

The primary sponsor of the bill in question is Democratic Senator Adam Ebbin. In a statement, Ebbin remarked, “House Republicans missed an opportunity to crack down on the illicit market and provide a regulated, equitable adult-use market.”

Other Democrats on the panel urged their Republican colleagues to reconsider their vote on the measure, with Delegate Dawn Adams saying, “If we don’t have a bill that gives us a well-regulated adult-use market amidst the backdrop of legalization in Virginia, we are basically providing a year for the growth and strengthening of the illicit market.”

“And the longer we wait to have a regulated market, the harder it will be to compete with that illicit market,” continued Adams.

Based on the report provided by the Associated Press, the state of Virginia currently holds the fourth-largest illicit cannabis market in 2020.

According to an interview with the executive director of the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws JM Pedini, the state’s illicit market is valued at a whopping $1.8 billion, reveals the Associated Press.

In a statement, Pedini remarked that the move made by the Republican lawmakers was a “huge disappointment” to many citizens.

This sentiment, however, was negated by Delegate Jeffrey L. Campbell last Monday, said The Washington Post. In a statement, Campbell shared that he “spent most of the weekend poring through this bill and trying to come to the determination whether now is the right time for this policy in Virginia. I think this is a bigger issue that we can correct in two weeks’ time.”

Legal Cannabis Regulatory Structure

The legalization of the drug without a retail or regulatory structure reportedly put the whole measure in jeopardy. As such, Marijuana Moment states that Republican lawmakers are left to clean up the “mess” and will need to take time to figure out the necessary structures that need to be in place.

Despite the failure to pass the measure, there are still certain cannabis-related measures and observances in the state of Virginia. Marijuana Moment said that legal-aged residents or citizens are allowed to grow marijuana as a means to obtain it.

Apart from this, individuals may also purchase this from a medical dispensary, provided they have a prescription to do so. It can also be gifted directly to them, said the news site.

The vote on the measure allowing recreational cannabis sales to start in the state of Virginia is just the start. Throughout this week, the Associated Press reports that the Virginia House is slated to deal with measured relating to expunging marijuana-related offenses as well as considering making resentences for other convictions.

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