Adding to the confusion: lawmakers included a “reenactment clause,” which means the General Assembly will have to vote again next year on major portions of the law, mainly to establish a regulatory framework for the legal marijuana marketplace.
“The only legal sale of cannabis in Virginia is through the medical (marijuana) program,” Pedini said.
The General Assembly’s research and watchdog agency found that from 2010-2019, Black Virginians were 3.5 times more likely than white Virginians to be arrested for marijuana possession, and 3.9 times more likely to be convicted, even though both populations used marijuana at similar rates.
Pedini, who is also the executive director of Virginia NORML, said the organization fields questions every day from people who are surprised to learn that selling pot won’t be allowed for another three years.
Virginia NORML has a page on its website to answer frequently asked questions and clear up confusion. The state also launched a website to answer questions about the new law.
No. The existing criminal penalties for selling or distributing marijuana, or possessing marijuana with the intent to sell or distribute, remain in effect. Individuals who sell marijuana, or who possess with the intent to sell it, are subject to misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the amount of marijuana involved.
It remains illegal to sell marijuana seeds, clones, flower, or any other part of the marijuana plant in Virginia before 2024. Although there are some states that already have legalized marijuana sales, it remains federally illegal to move marijuana across state lines.
If the licensing provisions of the bill are reenacted (approved again) in the 2022 General Assembly session, you will likely be able to apply for a marijuana business license in 2023. More instructions and guidance for people wanting to start a marijuana business will be released before the application period begins.
Or, identify and contact your State Senator or Delegate at the Virginia General Assembly.
Virginia’s marijuana legalization law ended the prohibition of simple possession of marijuana for adults 21 years and older on July 1, 2021. The law will also lay out a timeline for state agencies to seal marijuana-related criminal records. On July 1, 2021, all records of misdemeanor possession with intent to distribute marijuana arrests, charges, and convictions will be automatically sealed from public view in the Virginia State Police’s systems. This follows the sealing of simple possession of marijuana records that were completed in 2020. By July 1, 2025, after several state entities overhaul record-keeping systems, all records, including records of arrests, charges, and convictions, for simple possession of marijuana or misdemeanor possession with the intent to distribute marijuana will be automatically sealed across all state and private databases. Additionally, Virginians will have the ability to petition a court to seal all other marijuana-related misdemeanors and most marijuana-related felonies. These criminal justice reforms will modernize the Commonwealth’s criminal record keeping systems and remove barriers for Virginians seeking employment, housing, and education.
It will not be legal to sell marijuana before January 1, 2024. The law will create a new, independent political subdivision (“an authority”) to regulate the marijuana industry. While the Cannabis Control Authority can begin its work on July 1, 2021, it will take time for the authority to hire staff, write regulations, and implement equity and safety initiatives. Additionally, many of the regulatory sections of the bill must be reenacted (approved again) by the 2022 General Assembly before becoming law. For more information on the commercial market, see Adult-Use Cannabis Commercial Sales below.
As written, HB2312 and SB1406 contemplate application fees to start a marijuana business. However, these fees may vary depending on the type of business and your application status. For example, individuals or companies that qualify as “social equity applicants” license will qualify for technical support and reduced or waived fees. There will be a Cannabis Equity Business Support Team within the Cannabis Control Authority that will provide guidance and support during the licensing process for applicants who qualify.
But State Senator Martin Looney, a Democrat and one of the legislation’s sponsors, argued that a regulated cannabis industry would make marijuana consumption safer and pointed to the profits the state stood to make.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection said it was aiming to begin issuing licenses to grow and sell marijuana by the end of next year. Half of all licenses will be issued to low-income applicants.
Legislation signed Tuesday permits the possession of up to one and a half ounces of cannabis and provides a clean slate for some with past convictions.
“We’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states,” he said.
Those convicted of possession from Jan. 1, 2000 through Sept. 30, 2015 will have their records automatically cleared beginning in 2023. People with convictions from outside this time period can apply to have their records expunged starting next July.
The legislation is set to end an era of disproportionate convictions for marijuana possession against communities of color and pave the way for low-income residents to participate in the cannabis marketplace, injecting fresh revenue into the state’s economy and social welfare programs.
Debate continued to rage on the floor of the State Senate Thursday in the final hours before the bill was passed by a 16-11 margin. Legislators who pushed back on the bill criticized its “social equity” provision, which calls for half of retail licenses to be issued to low-income applicants, and raised concerns about addiction and crime.