Virginia legislative session ends without gov signing adult-use marijuana bill

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Virginia’s 60-day General Assembly session adjourned Saturday without the state’s Republican governor signing into law a bill finally legalizing adult-use marijuana sales.

That’s partly because the Democratic-controlled General Assembly has yet to formally send Gov. Glenn Youngkin the bill, according to the Virginia Mercury.

But it’s also because Democratic opposition to a Youngkin pet project – a publicly financed basketball and hockey arena in a Washington DC suburb – is ending hopes of bipartisan cooperation on other issues, including recreational cannabis sales.

This latest conflict with Youngkin means marijuana sales in Virgina is “up in smoke,” state Delegate Paul Krizek, D-Alexandria, told the Mercury.

Virginia legalized adult-use marijuana possession and home growing in 2021, but the bill signed into law by then-Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, required lawmakers to create rules setting up legal sales.

State lawmakers have failed to do that, despite the rise of an illicit “gifting” market that some lawmakers estimate is worth billions of dollars.

After Youngkin thwarted a legalization sales bill in 2023, a new Democratic majority in both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly raised hopes of a compromise.

Those hopes were dashed last week, however, after Democrats signaled their opposition to Youngkin’s publicly funded stadium proposal.

In return, Youngkin said at a news conference last week there’s not “any interest” in legalizing adult-use sales.

“And, bluntly, you want to talk about putting a cannabis shop on every corner?” the governor asked, according to the Mercury. “I don’t quite get it.”

Youngkin did veto another marijuana-related bill on Friday.

He rejected bipartisan legislation that would have specified simple possession of marijuana products did not constitute abuse or neglect in child-custody proceedings, The Washington Post reported.