Virginia Governor Proposes Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Bill

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed an adult-use cannabis legalization bill Jan. 13, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), would allow sales to launch Jan. 1, 2023, and calls for the licensing of cultivators, processors, distributors/wholesalers, retailers and testing labs, the news outlet reported.

The bill imposes a possession limit of one ounce, and levies a 21% tax on adult-use cannabis sales, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Municipalities would be allowed to impose an additional 3% tax on dispensaries, the news outlet reported.

A portion of the tax revenue generated from an adult-use cannabis market will be directed to pre-kindergarten access for at-risk children, according to The Virginian-Pilot, as well as substance abuse prevention efforts in schools.

The legislation also includes provisions to automatically expunge past cannabis-related misdemeanor offenses, the news outlet reported, as well as a system for petition-based expungements for felonies.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority will regulate and oversee the adult-use cannabis industry under the bill, and will include a governor-appointed, seven-member Cannabis Control Advisory Board, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Northam’s proposal also outlines “diverse participation” plans, which include a licensing process meant to support those identified as social equity applicants, as well as low- or no-interest loans and waived or reduced application and licensing fees for qualified applicants, the news outlet reported.

The legislation also includes a home grow provision that would allow Virginians to cultivate up to two mature and two immature plants per household, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Northam initially announced plans to introduce a cannabis legalization bill in November, and a separate bill to legalize adult-use cannabis has been introduced this year by Del. Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth).

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