Virginia GOP Lawmaker Files Marijuana Sales Bill For 2023, Eliciting Mixed Advocacy Reactions

Virginia GOP Lawmaker Files Marijuana Sales Bill For 2023, Eliciting Mixed Advocacy Reactions
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A Republican Virginia lawmaker has filed a bill to create a regulated marijuana market in the Commonwealth, but it’s drawing mixed reactions from advocates, some of whom view it as a giveaway to large, multi-state operators at the expense of equity for people harmed by the war on drugs. Del. Keith Hodges (R) introduced the legislation, which would build on Virginia’s current law that allows legal adult-use cannabis possession and personal cultivation by establishing a commercial marketplace. Advocates have been pushing the legislature to take the step to allow sales to begin. Lawmakers did include regulatory language as part of the legalization bill they passed in 2021 under full Democratic control of the state government. However, those components were subject to reenactment by a future legislature, and lawmakers didn’t do that in the 2022 session that saw Republicans back in control of the House of Delegates and governor’s office. What this latest proposal, HB 1464, would do is amend the previously passed regulatory provisions, giving legislators an alternative model for the market. Some have defended the measure, arguing that the revised language provides a necessary and practical path forward to finally give consumers access to regulated products under a partially GOP-controlled legislature and administration. Others find the changes, particularly as they concern social equity provisions, unworkable. The bill proposes to remove language that calls on regulators to develop standards on prioritizing social equity applicants. Instead, regulators would need to consider ways to prioritize any applicant who intends to operate in a historically economically disadvantaged area, rather than those who are from such an area. It would also delete language that calls for a cannabis business and equity task force to develop requirements for prospective multi-license holders to submit “diversity, equity, and inclusion plans,” for example. And it would delete an…

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Source : Virginia GOP Lawmaker Files Marijuana Sales Bill For 2023, Eliciting Mixed Advocacy Reactions

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