Virginia Governor Unwilling to Sign Cannabis Sale Bill

Despite speculation linking Virginia’s cannabis sales bill to Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed sports arena deal, it appears the connection may have been overblown.

Initial optimism surrounding a potential deal may have stemmed from Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas’s December 2023 social media comments expressing a desire for marijuana sales alongside sports stadiums. However, reports suggest that cannabis reform was indeed discussed in the aftermath of the General Assembly’s passage of legislation on February 28, allowing licensed dispensaries to sell adult-use cannabis by May 1, 2025.

Following this, when the Virginia Senate presented a budget on March 7 sans Youngkin’s proposed $2 billion public-private partnership for an entertainment district in Alexandria, which would host the Washington Wizards and Capitals, it was perceived as a deal-breaker.

In a subsequent press conference, Youngkin emphasized his lack of interest in cannabis legislation, stating, “I don’t have any interest in the cannabis legislation.”

Virginia Senate Democrats now shed light on a deal that never materialized. Senator Creigh Deeds disclosed that Youngkin’s refusal to engage with Democrat priorities, including cannabis sales, in negotiations ultimately led to the collapse of his proposed sports arena deal.

However, Youngkin’s emphasis on the economic benefits of his proposed sports arena failed to acknowledge similar potential gains from an adult-use cannabis market. For instance, Washington, with a population slightly smaller than Virginia’s, boasts a cannabis market supporting over 22,000 jobs and generating over $7.5 billion in sales over six years.

Del. Paul Krizek, the sponsor of the cannabis sales bill in the House, highlighted the estimated $3 billion unregulated cannabis market in Virginia, advocating for regulated access to a safe and taxed product.

The General Assembly’s passage of the bill marked a significant milestone nearly three years after initially passing legislation permitting adult-use cannabis possession and cultivation. However, with Youngkin’s continued opposition, the prospects for a regulated adult-use cannabis market remain uncertain.

Youngkin has 30 days from the General Assembly’s March 9 adjournment to sign, veto, or take no action on the legislation, with the current form lacking supermajority support to override a potential veto.

“Virginia Governor Never Was Going to Sign Cannabis Sales Bill.” Www.Cannabisbusinesstimes.Com, 5 Jun. 2024, Accessed 5 Jun. 2024.