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A regulated marijuana marketplace in Virginia likely isn't happening this year

Marijuana Legalization Virginia
Steve Helber
In this Thursday June 17, 2021 file photo cannabis plants are close to harvest in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in Richmond.

The effort to create a regulated marijuana marketplace is going nowhere, at least for this year.

Last year, lawmakers legalized marijuana. But nobody can legally buy it because nobody has a license to sell it, at least not yet. The General Assembly was considering a bill to create a marketplace. But now a Republican-led House panel has ended that discussion.

Republican Delegate Emily Brewer of Isle of Wight County led the subcommittee that killed the bill.

“We have folks who are still trying to grapple the differences between CBD, the terms hemp, cannabis, delta 8, delta 9. There’s a lot of confusion," Brewer explains. "So I really truly think for us to get to a regulated market, all the stakeholders really need to come together.”

Senator Adam Ebbin is a Democrat from Alexandria who says there’s no confusion. Lawmakers have been debating this for years, and they still have two weeks this session to work out a compromise.

"It's hard to read their minds, but I'd say they're unprepared to govern in this area and afraid of their base," says Ebbin.

Reporter Michael Pope asks, "what do you mean by that?"

"I think they're afraid of cannabis, which the General Assembly has already made a public policy decision to legalize," Ebbin responds. "And they didn't do their homework.

Without a last minute breakthrough, lawmakers will have another year to do homework on the issue, and potentially even take campaign contributions from companies that stand to make a profit.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.