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State lawmakers unlikely to move forward with a marijuana marketplace this year

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Lawmakers are wrapping up their General Assembly session this year. They are likely to leave town without taking action on creating a retail market for marijuana.

Virginia is in an awkward position. Marijuana is legal thanks to action taken by Democrats when they were in control of the General Assembly and the Executive Mansion. But when they were in power, Democrats failed to create a retail market, and now that Republicans are in control of the House of Delegates, the effort is stalled.

Senator Adam Ebbin is a Democrat from Alexandria who says he does not expect much to happen until Democrats take back the House.

"House Republicans have resisted consideration of the logical extension of what we have already done by legalizing cannabis in Virginia," Ebbin explains.

Not all Republicans are opposed to creating a retail market, though. Delegate Michael Webert is a Republican from Fauquier County who says the holdup is that Republicans have such divergent opinions.

"There is a wide range of thought on what a regulated marketplace would look like," Webert says. "So, you have some who are much more broad in where retail shops can go and some that want to have a really tight regulated market, almost like an ABC-type market."

In the absence of legislation creating the retail market, lawmakers are considering a piecemeal approach to cracking down on Delta 8 products that are already available at smoke shops and gas stations across Virginia.

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.