VA adult-use marijuana implementation uncertain given partisan gridlock

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Bills introduced in the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Representatives to implement the state’s recreational marijuana market now appear dead in the water.

And that means pressure now shifts to the state’s Democratically controlled Senate to approve a measure to launch the new market.

According to the Associated Press, House Republican leaders told reporters they don’t expect to meet a Tuesday deadline.

So, if the launch of a recreational cannabis market is to stay on track for its original January 2024 target, it’s up to Senate Democrats to finalize an implementation bill.

Even if the Senate Democrats deliver a bill, however, there’s no guarantee that House Republicans will simply agree to it.

It’s likely they might amend the measure significantly since there’s been stark divisions on the issue so far this session.

Republicans and Democrats have been gridlocked on policy questions for the new market’s regulations, including how to structure cannabis taxes, where tax revenues should be spent as well as a social equity proposal, the AP reported.

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“The whole space is a bit of a mess right now,” Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert told the AP.

Democrats approved the legalization bill last year with no GOP support.

But now the Republicans control both the governor’s mansion and the state House of Representatives, so the Legislature must approve some form of a legalization bill once more before the adult-use market can launch.