RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Because the Virginia Basic Meeting reaches the midway level of this yr’s session, one of many yr’s most intricate points — potential adjustments to the state’s new legislation legalizing leisure marijuana — has stalled within the GOP-controlled Home.
Terry Kilgore, the chamber’s majority chief, mentioned this week that he doesn’t count on the Home to vote on its own measures earlier than the Tuesday deadline for every chamber to finish work by itself laws. As a substitute, he mentioned the caucus would watch for the Democrat-controlled Senate to ship a invoice over and “go from there.”
“We wish to get it proper. There’s loads of regulation, enforcement … so there’s simply loads of questions, and also you’re operating out of time,” he mentioned Wednesday.
Final yr, when state authorities was beneath whole Democratic management, lawmakers passed legislation that legalized grownup possession of as much as an oz of marijuana and created a path for retail gross sales to start in 2024. The invoice handed in a chaotic rush, strictly alongside get together strains, with no GOP help. However as a result of the invoice has a reenactment clause, lawmakers are scheduled to vote once more this yr on the complicated regulatory construction wanted to arrange the retail marijuana market.
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With grownup possession legalized however no technique to legally purchase leisure marijuana in Virginia, each Republicans and Democrats have expressed help for transferring up the date for retail gross sales to attempt to forestall progress within the illicit market. However the two sides don’t agree on the best way to reinvest tax revenues from marijuana gross sales or on social fairness provisions that might give benefits within the licensing course of for marijuana companies to folks and communities which were harm by outdated marijuana legal guidelines.
The laws handed final yr referred to as for 30% of tax revenues to go the Hashish Fairness Reinvestment Fund, which might funnel the cash to predominantly minority communities disproportionately affected by the conflict on medication. A invoice proposed this yr by Senate Minority Chief Tommy Norment that referred to as for redirecting the cash to the state’s common fund was rapidly quashed by Senate Democrats.
One other invoice sponsored by Republican Del. Michael Webert features a provision that might redirect the tax income to a fund for rebuilding crumbling faculty buildings across the state.
The laws, which gave the impression to be the primary marijuana invoice provided by Home Republicans, additionally referred to as for eliminating a provision within the 2021 legislation that requires giving particular consideration for marijuana enterprise licenses to social fairness candidates, together with folks convicted of marijuana crimes or members of their fast households. And it might have slashed the general tax fee on marijuana gross sales from 21% to 10%.
However Webert’s invoice, together with a number of others drafted by Home Republicans, have had no motion in any respect in the course of the first 4 weeks of the session, an indication that the caucus has been unable to succeed in consensus.
Kilgore acknowledged issues in regards to the subject from some caucus members.
Final week, Speaker Todd Gilbert instructed The Related Press, “The entire area is a little bit of a large number proper now.”
“The mess was not created by us,” added Gilbert, who now leads the chamber after Republicans retook it and swept Virginia’s statewide places of work within the November election.
Different Republican invoice sponsors and committee chairs didn’t reply to requests for remark from the AP.
Democratic Sen. Adam Ebbin, a lead architect of the 2021 legislation, is sponsoring two key items of Senate marijuana laws this yr. One invoice would permit present medical marijuana suppliers to start promoting leisure marijuana to adults a yr sooner than the Jan. 1, 2024, date referred to as for within the 2021 legislation. Amongst different issues, the second invoice requires requiring hashish retail shops to shut by 9 p.m. and open no sooner than 8 a.m. and requiring the Hashish Management Authority to give you rules by Jan. 1, 2023, as an alternative of July 1, 2023.
Ebbin can also be planning to include a invoice from Sens. Louise Lucas and Scott Surovell that might permit resentencing of individuals at the moment incarcerated for marijuana crimes.
Ebbin mentioned he has had discussions with a number of Home Republicans “within the hopes we will work out an equitable association” on establishing the state’s retail marijuana market.
“I do know there are members of the Home on either side of the aisle who want to see the illicit market diminished and ultimately even near eradicated,” Ebbin mentioned. “In that spirit, I am hopeful we will work out a method for adults 21 and over to have the ability to entry a examined, regulated, taxed product.”
JM Pedini, government director of the Virginia chapter of the Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines, mentioned that if a reenactment invoice goes to succeed in the course of the present legislative session, “it’s going to require main compromise.”
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