Virginia lawmakers advance 2 marijuana bills in divided Legislature

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Legislators in Virginia advanced two marijuana bills that would establish adult-use sales in 2024 and allow licensed businesses to take tax deductions prohibited under federal tax code.

The bills face an upward climb in a divided Legislature led by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who appears to be lukewarm about expanding Virginia’s medical marijuana program into recreational sales.

Asked if he would sign legislation to create a framework to allow recreational marijuana sales in Virginia, Youngkin said he’s more concerned with legislation that deals “with hemp and delta-8 and the regulations and consumer safety around those products,” according to Richmond TV station WRIC.

One bill would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell adult-use products on Jan. 1, 2024, though taxation and social equity provisions could derail a consensus.

The other bill would allow cannabis operators to deduct certain taxes prohibited under Section 280E of the U.S tax code.

That measure would essentially decouple state operators from the federal tax code, a move underway in several other states, including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, according to Marijuana Moment.

Efforts to establish recreational sales in Virginia have stalled for nearly two years since then-Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation in April 2021 legalizing the potential $1.4 billion adult-use market, according to MJBizDaily projections.

The delays have prompted Virginia license holders to expand their medical marijuana operations while awaiting legislative progress to launch adult-use sales in the state.