• Eli Hunt

Got Plans With Cannabis? Find Out How Potential Legislative Action in VA Affects You


The November election in Virginia changed things up, leaving marijuana activists a little concerned about the safety of legalization in the Commonwealth. If you have a medical marijuana card in Virginia, you may be wondering— How will any legislative action in Virginia affect me?


The following is a breakdown of what could happen over the next several months, whether you are a dedicated medical marijuana user, a recreational fan, or interested in the industry.


Cannabis's Legislative Future in Virginia: An Overview

To begin, let's summarize the recent history of cannabis legislation in the Commonwealth, including where legislators on either side of the aisle fall when it comes to key issues:


  1. Medical Marijuana Laws

After initially allowing patients with severe epilepsy to use cannabis oil in 2017, Virginia established a comprehensive medical marijuana program in 2020, providing medical marijuana patients with formal protection from prosecution for possessing and using cannabis.


In 2021, the legislature passed new legislation that allows medical marijuana users to purchase "whole plant" cannabis; this same legislation also contains language that protects medical marijuana users from being fired by employers for using medical marijuana.


  1. Recreational Use

In February of 2021, the Virginia legislation also passed a law allowing for the recreational, adult use of cannabis in the Commonwealth; recreational sales are scheduled to start, under this legislation, on July 1, 2024.


  1. Social Equity

Folded within the bills related to recreational use is language related to social equity and decriminalization. This language is included after extensive lobbying by social activists, with the goal of ameliorating the disenfranchisement and criminalization experienced by many minority communities during the War on Drugs.


  1. Timeline to Recreational Marijuana Sales in Virginia

Later in 2021, activists began to push for an earlier start date to recreational sales. A long wait, it is believed, will create further problems in marginalized communities and leave too much room for a black market to flourish. Legislators debate exactly how to structure recreational sales, if and when it can move forward sooner.


In November of 2021, Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, was elected governor of the Commonwealth. The Republican party also gained several seats in the assembly. Activists have begun to fear that this more conservative administration will try to reverse cannabis legislation.


What's at Stake

What could change in the new legislative session in 2022? It's all up in the air, but there are signs indicating where things might go.


Medical Marijuana Laws in Virginia are Safe

One thing seems clear— medical marijuana is not under threat. Fortunately, there is widespread support for medical marijuana use in the Commonwealth. Polls indicate that a diverse group of Virginians, including senior citizens and Republicans, believe that medical marijuana should be legal. With this ever-increasing base, medical marijuana should be safe for the duration.


Probably Safe: Recreational Marijuana Sales

Things are looking okay for recreational sales, as well. Youngkin stated multiple times during the election cycle that he would not reverse legalization of recreational sales. In a first meeting of the Cannabis Oversight Commission since the election on the topic of a timeline to recreational sales, the lone Republican on the committee intimated he would work with Dems in support of recreational sales since the legislation is already in place.]


However, unless these commission members and legislators in general come to a quick consensus on recreational sales, sales will not begin in the state until 2024.


At Risk: Social Equity

What may be at risk are some of the social equity components in the 2021 legislation. Language within the law asserts that minority applicants should be given priority when commercial licensing opens up for recreational sales. Two things may threaten this: the high-stakes tone of racial justice issues in Virginia right now and the fact that rushing the timeline to recreational sales may require giving priority to already established dispensaries around the state.


At Risk: Decriminalization

The 2021 legalization bill also included language that significantly reduced sentencing related to cannabis and the expungement of existing sentences. Given the anti-crime tenor of much of Youngkin's campaigning, this may be the issue he will sacrifice in order to appease his base.


In Summary: The State of Marijuana Laws in Virginia

  • If you are a medical marijuana user, chances are you can continue to enjoy quality medical marijuana products in perpetuity in Virginia.


  • Recreational sales is 'wait and see' in the near and long term. What is clear is that medical marijuana will continue to be the best way to access safe, high-quality cannabis in Virginia.


  • If you are hoping to access commercial licensing via social equity initiatives, the tables may turn; for now, everything is wait and see.


  • If you are hoping to have a previous sentence expunged, there is no time like the present to act, as the future is murky; activists and legislators are already hard at work and have sealed over 60,000 records in the books.

Get Your VA Marijuana Card Now!

The future is still bright for medical marijuana in the Commonwealth. If you are interested in getting your own medical marijuana card, there's no time like the present, whatever future legislation may bring! Enjoying medical marijuana can bring with it a wealth of therapeutic benefits, and our experts can help you find the relief you need!


Schedule an appointment with an online medical marijuana doctor today, to start gaining access to safe, legal cannabis products, including tinctures, flower, concentrates and more.

 

Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness

safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on

education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by

providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.


Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!


Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.


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Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.


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