General Assembly faces decisions on marijuana licenses
Members of the General Assembly need to figure out how the new marijuana industry works and how licenses are distributed. Some Republicans are uncomfortable with the system of creating social-equity licenses that benefit people who have been harmed by the War on Drugs.
But Jenn Michelle Pedini at Virginia NORML says abandoning that approach would be a mistake. "One of the driving factors in 2021 for enacting legalization was to undo the damage done to Virginia and Virginians by decades of prohibition.”
Lawmakers are also considering reinstating misdemeanor criminal penalties for possession of four ounces to a pound, although Senator Adam Ebbin of Alexandria says another way to approach that would be increasing the civil penalty beyond $25.
"Whether or not it has to be one that carries a criminal record I haven't made a final conclusion," Ebbin says. "I think the idea of discouraging larger amounts is worthwhile, and we have to decide the best way to do that."
Lawmakers will also be reconsidering whether localities will have to hold a referendum to opt out of legal sales in their community or whether they would have to ask voters if they want to opt in. Plus there's the labor question of whether workers in this new industry are able to engage in collective bargaining.