Virginia governor ‘not interested’ in legalizing adult-use cannabis sales

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The prospect of commercial cannabis sales in Virginia is officially off the table as long as Gov. Glenn Youngkin remains in power.

According to Charlottesville newspaper The Daily Progress, the Republican “has stated that he is not interested in any further moves towards legalization of adult recreational use marijuana,” Joseph Guthrie, the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said during a recent meeting of the Virginia Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council.

“So I wouldn’t expect that during his administration.”

Asked by the Progress for clarification, a spokesperson for the governor said: “As it stands, retail marijuana sales in Virginia are illegal and (it) would require legislative action for that to change.”

The solidification of Youngkin’s position appears to spell the end of hopes for adult-use marijuana sales in Virginia, at least for now.

Former Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed an adult-use legalization bill into law in April 2021.

The law legalized possession and home cultivation.

It also paved the way for recreational marijuana sales to launch as early as the beginning of 2024.

However, the legislation required further action from Virginia lawmakers before adult-use sales could begin.

Since Youngkin won the governor’s office and the GOP took control of the House of Delegates, Virginia’s lower legislative chamber, in November 2021, Republican opposition to permitting regulated adult-use sales has stymied progress toward the market’s launch.

This year, for example, Republican lawmakers moved to cut the Cannabis Control Authority’s budget and killed a retail bill.

Former state Republican lawmaker Greg Habeeb, who became a lobbyist with the Virginia Cannabis Association, told MJBizDaily in February that he saw “no path” toward sales launching in 2024.

“The governor wants nothing to do with it,” Habeeb said.

Youngkin’s term as governor runs until at least January 2026.

Medical marijuana sales remain legal in Virginia, with the 2023 MJBiz Factbook projecting sales worth as much as $43 million this year.