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Marijuana marketplace legislation inches towards Governor Glenn Youngkin's desk

Marijuana plants in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren
Marijuana plants in Seattle.

Governor Glenn Youngkin is about to consider a bill that would create a retail market for marijuana.

The House and Senate have arrived at a compromise bill to create a retail market for marijuana sales in Virginia. Here's Senator Aaron Rouse, a Democrat from Virginia Beach who introduced the bill.

"It does not legalize cannabis" Rouse says. "It does not create the market. But what it does is it regulates an existing market."

The bill allows for microbusiness licenses set aside for people convicted of marijuana crimes, as well as people who live in economically disadvantaged areas.

"We do have equity provisions that can be used for consideration in the release of licenses for retail markets," says Senator Barbara Favola, a Democrat from Arlington.

The tax rate in the bill going to the governor is 12%, which Republican Senator David Suetterlein of Roanoke County says is too small.

"But I don't think it's right that we are going to continue taxing working families more for rotisserie chicken than we will for cannabis going forward," the Republican says.

The bill has to clear one more procedural hurdle before heading to the desk of Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has repeatedly said he is not interested in signing it.

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.