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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. 

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Governor Youngkin Moves to Re-criminalize Personal Possession of Marijuana

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is seeking to re-criminalize certain activities specific to the possession of marijuana in Virginia. 

The Governor has proposed an amendment in the nature of a substitute to SB 591 which would create two new misdemeanors for personal marijuana possession. 

Currently, the personal possession of more than one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older is subject to no more than a $25 civil penalty. The governor’s amendment would codify two new marijuana misdemeanors — a Class 2 misdemeanor for the personal possession of over two  ounces of cannabis, making it punishable by up to six months in jail and/or $1,000 fine, and a Class 1 misdemeanor for the personal possession of over​ six  ounces. The latter activity would be punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 fine. 

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Governor Youngkin Signs Legislation to Improve Medical Cannabis Program


AP Photo/Steve Helber

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed HB 933 and SB 671, to provide numerous operational improvements to the state’s medical cannabis program, including eliminating the requirement that patients register with the Board of Pharmacy after receiving their written certification from a registered practitioner. 

“These legislative improvements will bring great relief to the thousands of Virginians waiting to access the medical cannabis program,” said JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML. “We hear from dozens of Virginians each week who are struggling with the registration process and frustrated by the 60-day wait to receive their approval from the Board of Pharmacy,” Pedini added.

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Senate Approves Adult-use Cannabis Retail Sales in Bipartisan Vote

Today, the Virginia Senate approved Senate Bill 391 in a historic bipartisan vote to regulate the retail sale of cannabis to adults 21 and older. Sales could begin as early as September 15, 2022 at the state’s existing medical dispensaries. The bill also provides for the licensing of additional cultivation, manufacturing, retail, and wholesale businesses via the recently established Cannabis Control Authority.

Virginia NORML has consistently advocated for launching sales ahead of the legislature’s initially proposed January 1, 2024 start date. “We’re pleased that there is bipartisan support for expediting retail access,” said JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML.

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Legislative Oversight Commission Urges Lawmakers to Expedite Launch of Retail Cannabis Sales

Members of Virginia’s Joint Commission on Cannabis Oversight decided this week in favor expediting the timeline for the launch of adult-use marijuana sales.

By a margin of 7 to 1, members voted to recommend allowing state-licensed sales to begin on January 1, 2023 — one-year ahead of schedule. Facilities currently serving the medical-use market would be permitted to also engage in adult-use sales under the plan, which still must be voted on next year by state lawmakers.

Virginia NORML has consistently advocated for launching sales ahead of the legislature’s initial January 1, 2024 start date. “Virginians 21 and older ought to have access at the already-operational dispensaries sooner rather than later, and they have been very clear in their demands to move earlier the date of sales,” said JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML.

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Election Outcomes Likely to Influence Marijuana Legalization Launch

GOP gains in the state legislature on Election Day will likely influence the timeline and manner with which lawmakers enact adult-use marijuana sales in Virginia.

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation in April permitting adults to possess and grow small quantities of cannabis. That same legislation established a timeline by which state regulators must enact provisions licensing commercial cannabis production and sales. No Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the legislation on the floor of either chamber.

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Virginia State Police Seal Over 64,000 Misdemeanor Marijuana Distribution Convictions

Virginia State Police have sealed 64,651 conviction records related to misdemeanor marijuana distribution charges since the state legalized adult use marijuana in July.

The state legislature’s Cannabis Oversight Commission made the announcement during a Thursday meeting.

333,886 simple marijuana possession conviction records were previously sealed after the state enacted a measure in 2020 to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession offenses.

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Botanical Medical Cannabis Sales Begin in Virginia

Sales of cannabis flower in Virginia began this month when dispensaries in Manassas, Portsmouth, and Richmond received the final product approvals from the Board of Pharmacy, the state agency which currently regulates medical cannabis.  

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Governor Northam Signs Adult-use Marijuana Legalization Legislation

Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation into law today legalizing adult-use marijuana possession and establishing an enactment date for commercial marijuana production and retail sales. 

NORML Development Director JM Pedini spoke alongside the Governor at the ceremonial bill signing. “Today, together, we celebrate an extraordinary victory for cannabis justice in the Commonwealth.” Pedini, who also serves as Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, said. “Still, we have so much more work ahead, and NORML remains committed to continuing our efforts on behalf of Virginians, with the legislature, with the administration, and with the new Cannabis Control Authority to make sure we do get this right.”

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Legalization of Adult-use Marijuana in Virginia to Take Effect July 1, 2021

Richmond, VA: Following today’s legislative approval of Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s amendments to Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312, Virginia becomes the first southern state to legalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults.

Senate Bill 1406, introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Senate President Pro Tempore Senator Louise Lucas (D-18), and House Bill 2312, patroned by House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46), establish a statutory timeline for the legalization of the commercial marijuana market in Virginia. The measure also permits for the personal possession and cultivation of cannabis by those ages 21 or older.

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