Virginia governor-elect Youngkin lukewarm about recreational marijuana

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Virginia’s newly elected Republican governor says he isn’t opposed or looking to overturn recreational marijuana legalization, but “I think there is a lot of work to do.”

Glenn Youngkin’s comments came in a wide-ranging interview with Virginia Business.

The former CEO’s November victory over Gov. Terry McAuliffe ended a Democratic era at the state’s highest office, but Democrats held on to a slim 21-19 majority in the state Senate.

Virginia legalized adult-use marijuana last year, but a commercial market isn’t scheduled to launch until 2024 unless lawmakers push that timeline forward.

MJBizDaily projects the market could reach nearly $1.5 billion in annual sales by the program’s fifth year.

Youngkin sounded as if he believes 2024 is plenty soon enough for a commercial launch.

“When it comes to commercialization, I think there is a lot of work to be done,” he told Virginia Business.

For one thing, he called “forced unionization” in the legislation a “nonstarter.”

He said he’s “all for” opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses as called for in the legislation.

But, he added, “we also have to make sure that they have the capabilities to compete and thrive in the industry.”

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The measure passed includes a clause requiring the state General Assembly to reenact a number of provisions of the bill, including those that detail the regulatory and market structure such as licensing.

Youngkin concluded by saying that everything will be on the table.

“Again, I don’t look to overturn the bill, but I think we need to make sure that it works.”