U.S. Secret Service Relaxes Past-Use Cannabis Policy for Applicants
by Mary E.
On April 7, 2021, Virginians rejoiced as Gov. Northam (D) signed the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) into law. This law positioned Virginia to be the South’s first adult-use (i.e., recreational) state, with a Jan. 1, 2024 launch date for its first-ever retail sales. In preparation, the CCA established a framework for cannabis business licensing, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing, and adult-use retail sales that would be regulated by a newly formed Cannabis Control Authority.
But there was a catch.
As explained by the law firm Troutman Pepper:
“Perhaps as a compromise to encourage its passage, the bill included a provision found in Enactment 7 that stated that certain portions of the CCA “shall not become effective unless reenacted by the 2022 Session of the General Assembly.” The General Assembly, however, wrapped up its 2022 session without reenacting any portion of the CCA . . . . As a result, many of the provisions that created the structure for Virginia’s adult-use cannabis program, and the framework for regulations to be issued by the [Cannabis Control] Authority, are no longer effective. Agencies tasked with moving the program forward are currently putting their efforts on hold until after 2023.”
These adult-use provisions were slashed through the silence of Virginia’s 2022-2024 budget bill. Lawmakers would have had to clearly state their reenactment within the budget bill, HB 30, in order for the provisions to remain effective.
Some stakeholders argue that the changes made through HB 30 will only result in strengthening the stranglehold of Virginia’s unregulated cannabis market, which puts minors and consumer safety at risk. Many of these same stakeholders attribute the step backward to newly instated Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R).
On July 2, 2021 (the day after the CCA went into effect), Gov. Youngkin’s campaign team made a statement via Twitter that, should he win, “Glenn Youngkin will not seek to repeal [the CCA]; his focus will be on building a rip-roaring economy with more jobs and better wages, restoring excellence in education, and reestablishing Virginia’s commitment to public safety.”
Gov. Youngkin’s track record since taking seat as governor contradicts this assertion. For example, during this year’s April vet session, the governor sought to replace the CCA’s possession limit by recriminalizing the possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis. This proposed change was blocked by Virginia’s House of Delegates.
According to JM Pedini, NORML’s development director and the executive director of Virginia NORML, “Governor Youngkin’s actions are in direct conflict with his campaign promise to not roll back legalization and they are out of touch with the opinions of the majority of Virginians. . . . This administration has made no effort to establish a legal adult-use cannabis market or to ensure that all cannabis products sold in the Commonwealth are accurately labeled and regulated for consumer safety.”
There’s no doubt about it: Virginia’s adult-use cannabis program took a major hit—but not all is lost. Virginia’s remaining cannabis laws and regulations:
Lawmakers’ failure to reenact the majority of provisions in the 2021 CCA meant a significant blow to Virginia’s planned adult-use program, which had been intended to launch on Jan. 1, 2024.
Virginians and industry stakeholders are now left wondering if the General Assembly will draft a new adult-use statute that maintains the 2024 start date; whether the same number of cannabis businesses will be licensed throughout the state; if medical dispensaries will receive a head-start on adult-use sales; and whether municipalities will still be able to prohibit cannabis sales in their locality through a referendum process.
Basically: Will legislators use the CCA’s 2021 version as its starting point, or will it approach drafting a new adult-use program as working from a blank slate?
As stakeholders, lobbyists, and state representatives work behind the scenes throughout this 2022-2024 budget period, the rest of us will have to wait and see.
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September 12, 2022 at 11:42 am
Typical Virginia stupidity change the rules in the middle of the game