Legislators in Virginia approved measures that will allow the personal possession, cultivation and use of small amounts of marijuana beginning July 1, but a commercial market still isn’t permitted to begin until 2024.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed the amendments to accelerate the timeline of a bill lawmakers passed in February to legalize adult-use marijuana. Northam wanted the changes before signing the legislative package.
Virginia will become the first state in the South to legalize a recreational marijuana market.
Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, called legalization “an incredible victory” but pledged to push for an earlier start to commercial sales.
“In the interest of public and consumer safety, Virginians 21 and older should be able to purchase retail cannabis products at the already operational (medical cannabis) dispensaries in 2021, not in 2024,” Pedini said in a statement.
“Such a delay will only exacerbate the divide for equity applicants and embolden illicit activity.”
Marijuana Business Daily projects that a recreational marijuana market in Virginia will generate $400 million to $500 million in sales in its first full year and $1.2 billion-$1.4 billion by its fifth year.
The measure emphasizes social equity licenses and would limit vertical integration to small businesses.