Senate Kills Governor’s Recriminalization Amendment, Bill Addressing Synthetically Derived Marijuana Products

Republican Senators strategize before the vote to send SB 591 back to Committee

Republican Gov. Glen Youngkin’s recent attempt to recriminalize activities involving the possession of two ounces of marijuana by adults via the enactment of an amendment to SB 591 has been defeated for the session. That effort failed on Wednesday with lawmakers’ refusal to advance the bill it was added to, SB 591.

Legislators voted to re-refer SB 591 to the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee. With the 2022 legislative session having already ended, this vote effectively ends any further discussion on the legislation this year. 

JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, said, “The good news is, Governor Youngkin’s effort to recriminalize personal possession failed. The bad news is lawmakers’ inaction today allows for products containing unregulated and potentially unsafe synthetically-derived THC products to continue to proliferate in Virginia.”

Pedini added, “With his attempt to create new ways to criminalize Virginians for personal possession of cannabis having failed, Governor Youngkin’s administration should actually serve his constituents by establishing a legal adult-use marijuana market and ensuring that all cannabis products sold in the Commonwealth are accurately labeled and regulated for consumer safety.”

Commenting on the failure to approve the base text that would have regulated currently unregulated synthetically derived THC and novel THC products, JM Pedini added: “Sending SB 591 back to the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee is not in the interest of public health or safety. By failing to take legislative action, unregulated products containing synthetically-derived THC will continue to be sold at retail and wholesale outside of the strict regulatory oversight currently required for legally produced cannabis products. Consumers deserve to know what they’re purchasing, and far too often what’s on the label is not what’s in the package when it comes to unregulated products.”

Personal possession and the cultivation of small quantities of cannabis by adults 21 and older is already permitted in Virginia under the 2021 legalization law approved by former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. Senate lawmakers approved separate legislation earlier this year to establish retail cannabis sales, but the bill died in the House after Republican members of the House General Laws Subcommittee rejected the measure.