The incoming governor of Virginia says that whereas he’s not enthusiastic about re-criminalizing marijuana possession, which grew to become authorized within the state final summer season, he feels there’s “nonetheless work to be carried out” earlier than he will get behind making a marketplace for business gross sales and manufacturing.
Advocates have been carefully following Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) as he prepares to take workplace later this month, with some expressing considerations that he could search to interfere in the implementation of the cannabis legalization law that Democratic lawmakers handed final 12 months.
In an interview with Virginia Enterprise that was revealed on Friday, Youngkin made clear that he “is not going to search to overturn the regulation on private possession,” however he’s not making the identical dedication with respect to hashish commercialization.
“I’m not towards it, however there’s lots of work to be carried out,” he stated, including that there are “some nonstarters” in what Democrats handed, together with provisions setting labor union necessities for marijuana companies. He additionally cited “considerations expressed by regulation enforcement in how the hole within the legal guidelines can really be enforced.”
Youngkin added that “there’s an actual must make it possible for we aren’t selling an anti-competitive trade” and “there are preferences to make it possible for all contributors within the trade are certified to do the trade properly.”
A Virginia legislature marijuana oversight panel regarded into points like licensing and regulatory authority at a meeting last month, and members voted to advocate expediting the timeline for launching retail gross sales by one 12 months to January 2023.
It stays to be seen whether or not the complete legislature will in the end undertake that advice when members reconvene this month beneath new incoming Republican management within the Home of Delegates and with a skeptical new governor in workplace.
Because it stands beneath the regulation as enacted, gross sales are at present set to start in 2024. However due to a reenactment clause that was tacked on, legislators are required to carry one other vote on the legalization proposal throughout this 12 months’s session to permit business gross sales. Low-level possession and residential cultivation already grew to become authorized final summer season, and people provisions usually are not topic to reenactment.
JM Pedini, government director of Virginia NORML, advised Marijuana Second that the incoming governor is right when he says there’s nonetheless a lot work to be carried out, however the activist blamed Democratic lawmakers for placing the reenactment clause into final 12 months’s laws.
“Democrats missed an actual alternative to enact a regulatory framework for business gross sales within the 2021 Basic Meeting,” Pedini, who additionally serves as NORML’s nationwide growth director, stated. “The reenactment clause was demanded by handful of legislators with purely political motivations, however in the end it’s Virginians who’re dropping factors from this ill-timed punt.”
“It was troublesome sufficient reaching consensus amongst Democrats on legalization within the 2021 session, and with a now divided authorities, the hills might be all that steeper to climb,” they stated.
Within the new interview, Youngkin additionally stated that he’s “all for alternatives for minority-owned companies, women-owned companies [and] military-owned companies,” with out getting too particular on any modifications he would possibly want to see to fairness provisions within the laws that handed final 12 months.
“We additionally must make it possible for they’ve the capabilities to compete and thrive within the trade. So, I feel there’s work to be carried out,” he stated. “All of that might be on the desk. Once more, I don’t look to overturn the invoice, however I feel we have to make it possible for it really works.”
Whereas there have been some concern amongst advocates that the incoming GOP-controlled Home might seek to interfere in the implementation of the legalization invoice that outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed into law in April, sure GOP legislators have given assurances that they won’t try to dam gross sales.
Home Speaker-designee Todd Gilbert (R) and Del. Glenn Davis (R) stated in November that the present system—the place adults 21 and older can possess and domesticate hashish for private use however there’s no business entry to marijuana merchandise—isn’t tenable in the long term. However questions have been raised about what sorts of modifications they could search to make even when they received’t repeal this system altogether.
Gilbert did say that Democrats “didn’t do [legalization] the proper means,” however “we’re going to have to repair all that and we’re going to work with the Democratic Senate to repair all that.”
“I think about the roadmap that they laid out as to how that may happen, in the event that they did it sooner or later, goes to alter dramatically,” he stated final month. “However clearly, we’ve been left with that stay grenade type of rolling round and we have to repair it or else all we now have is a black market.”
When the legislature took up legalization final 12 months, the reform measure handed alongside celebration strains, with out a single Republican voting in favor of the proposal on the ground of the Senate or Meeting. On the time, each chambers have been managed by Democrats.
It was an amendment offered by Northam and adopted by the legislature that made it so private possession and cultivation can be made authorized for adults final July, moderately than in 2024 because the invoice initially stipulated.
For his half, Youngkin stated in April that he’s “by no means met anyone who habitually used marijuana and was profitable.” In Might he described legalization as “one other downside that’s going to be dumped at my toes” ought to he be elected.
Although Republicans opposed final 12 months’s legalization invoice, pushback by many GOP lawmakers centered on explicit provisions, such a change by Northam that may’ve allowed regulators to revoke an organization’s enterprise license if it interfered with union organizing efforts or didn’t pay prevailing wage, as Youngkin alluded to.
Picture courtesy of Philip Steffan.