Virginia Cannabis Control Act: A Tale of Two Legislatures

Virginia Cannabis Control Act: A Tale of Two Legislatures
CANNANNEW REPORT

By Agustin Rodriguez & Christina Sava  June 21, 2022 It was the best of times… the passage of the Virginia Cannabis Control Act (CCA) in 2021 was celebrated by many as the first bill in the South to legalize adult-use cannabis (read about the status of cannabis programs in other Southern states here). It was also heralded as the success of a Democrat-controlled legislature and of outgoing Democratic Governor Ralph Northam. Few people understood, however, that many portions of the CCA required ratification by the 2022 Virginia General Assembly, which ushered in a Republican majority in the state’s House of Delegates and a Republican governor. This new General Assembly failed to reenact any portion of the CCA during its 2022 session. Although it seems likely that Virginia will move forward with an adult-use cannabis program at some point in the future, we no longer know when that will occur or what the program will look like. This post explores which provisions of the CCA are defunct and which have become valid law. Enacted on April 7, 2021 (2020 Va. SB 1406), the CCA created the framework for the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing, and retail sale of adult-use cannabis in Virginia. The CCA would have provided for licenses for 400 dispensaries, 450 cultivators, 60 manufacturers, and 25 wholesalers, all licensed and regulated by a newly created Cannabis Control Authority (Authority). Priority would have been given to license applications submitted by qualified social equity applicants, with the criteria for being a social equity applicant clearly defined. Cities, counties, and towns could have opted to prohibit dispensaries in their jurisdiction, but only by sending a referendum to their voters by a certain time. It also provided for the development of a social equity program, reinvestment of cannabis revenues into marginalized communities, and reformed criminal penalties for cannabis…

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