Virginia to become 16th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana | Man’s pepper with trout

Last year, voters in Montana, Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota and Mississippi approved voting measures to legalize marijuana in their states. It looks like Virginia will continue this trend towards state legalization in 2021. In a landmark vote on Friday, February 5, 2021, the Virginia General Assembly passed two bills (one in the House and one in the House). Senate) that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana. in the Commonwealth. There are key differences between the two bills that will need to be reconciled before going to Gov. Ralph Northam’s office ahead of the signing, who has indicated his support for such legislation. If enacted, the legislation would make Virginia on the 16the State of the country to legalize recreational use. Below is a summary of some of the main similarities and differences between the two bills.

Bill 2312 and Senate Bill 1406: Key similarities

  • Licence
    • Establishes the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (the Authority). The Authority would be composed of the Virginia Cannabis Board of Directors (the Board), the Chief Executive Officer and its agents and employees.
    • The Council would have the power, among other things, to issue licenses for the cultivation, manufacture, testing, wholesale and retail sale of marijuana.
    • The Authority could start accepting license applications on July 1, 2023 and would be required to give preference to social equity applicants, as determined by Council regulations. Any applicant issued by the Authority after July 1, 2023 would be authorized to operate, except that no marijuana store licensee may sell retail marijuana or retail marijuana products to a consumer before January 1, 2024.
    • Allows anyone 21 years of age or older to grow up to two mature marijuana plants and two immature marijuana plants for personal use, but makes it a crime to grow or manufacture marijuana without a license.
  • Marijuana tax
    • Establishes a marijuana tax, which would be levied on the sale of all retail marijuana, retail marijuana products, paraphernalia, non-retail marijuana and non-retail marijuana products at the rate of 21%, with some exceptions . For example, the tax would not apply to any sale:
      • From one marijuana establishment to another marijuana establishment.
      • Cannabis oil for processing according to the provisions of § 54.1-3408.3.
      • Industrial hemp by a producer, processor or reseller.
      • Industrial hemp extract or food containing industrial hemp extract.
  • Social equity initiatives
    • Establishes a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Council to be chaired by the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
    • Establishes a cannabis stock reinvestment fund that only allows the money to be used for:
      • Families and communities in areas that have historically and been disproportionately targeted and affected by drug control;
      • Provide scholarships to historically marginalized youth who have been affected by drug addiction;
      • Allocate grants to support workforce development for people residing in areas affected or disproportionately targeted by the fight against drugs; and
      • Contribution to the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission.
    • Establishes the Virginia Cannabis Equity Business Loan Program and Fund to provide low and zero interest loans to qualified social equity license applicants to promote business ownership and economic growth in communities that have been most affected disproportionately under the old cannabis ban.
    • If license limits are imposed, the Authority would be required to reserve a license slot for a qualified social equity applicant for each license that was initially granted to a social equity applicant and subsequently returned.
  • Local laws
    • Prohibits localities from adopting laws that regulate or prohibit the cultivation, manufacture, possession, sale, wholesale distribution, handling, transportation, consumption, use, advertising or distribution of marijuana in the retail or retail marijuana products in the Commonwealth, with a few exceptions.

Bill 2312 and Senate Bill 1406: Key differences

  • License Limits
    • HB 2312 would limit the number of licenses issued by class and type to a maximum of 400 marijuana retail stores, 25 marijuana wholesalers, 60 marijuana manufacturing facilities and 450 marijuana grow operations.
    • SB 1406 would require a limit on the number of licenses issued by type or class to operate a marijuana establishment, but would give the Commission the authority to set those limits.
  • Vertical integration
    • SB 1406 would authorize the Council to issue multiple licenses to a single person, but would require that person to pay the Council $ 1 million. This would effectively allow vertical integration.
    • HB 2312 does not have a similar arrangement.
  • License reservations
    • If licensing limits are imposed, SB 1406 would require the Authority to reserve license slots for all cannabis distribution establishments and pharmaceutical processors that have been licensed by the Board of Pharmacy under the framework. current Commonwealth law for medical marijuana.
    • HB 2312 would not give such preference to current licensees.
  • Control of geographic dispersion
    • HB 2312 would require the Authority to ensure the geographic dispersion of marijuana retail store licenses.
    • SB 1406 would not require geographic dispersion.
  • Marijuana tax
    • HB 2312 would allow a locality to levy an additional tax on marijuana without specifying a limit.
    • SB 1406 would only allow one locality to charge an additional 3% tax on marijuana.
  • Local laws
    • Despite prohibiting the ability of localities to pass laws regulating the marijuana market, SB 1406 would allow localities to prevent, by referendum, the establishment of retail marijuana stores inside their homes. borders. SB 1406 would allow localities to hold a referendum between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023, with the results taking effect on January 1, 2024.
    • HB 2312 does not contain provisions providing an exception to the general prohibition.
  • Civil fines for possession
    • HB 2312 would impose a civil fine of $ 25 on anyone 21 years of age or older who possesses more than an ounce of marijuana in public.
    • SB 1406 would eliminate this provision.