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Governor Youngkin will not commit to approving a retail marijuana market in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (VRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin dodged a question on whether he will sign legislation that would pave the way for retail marijuana in Virginia, saying he is instead focused on regulating hemp and delta-8 products.

People over the age of 21 can possess small amounts of cannabis for recreational use in Virginia, but there is no way to legally purchase it. Virginia has legalized possession of up to one ounce, but efforts to create a regulatory framework for recreational sales have stalled in the General Assembly.

Democrats and Republicans have proposed bills for the 2023 legislative session to create a retail cannabis market in Virginia.

But questions remain as to whether Youngkin would sign any of the legislation. The governor was undecided Monday when asked if he would sign legislation establishing a market for recreational sales.

“To be clear, the bill I’m following and looking for is legislation that deals with hemp and delta-8 and the regulations and consumer safety around those products.” “Right now we have products that are mislabeled, mismarketed and targeted at children,” Youngkin told 8News. “It’s a bill I’m looking at to make sure it comes out because it’s a bill I want to sign.”

Under current Virginia law, adults can grow up to four marijuana plants in their homes, receive cannabis as a gift, or purchase it from a licensed medical dispensary.

A bill passed in 2021 included a reimplementation clause requiring the General Assembly to reauthorize the measure and set a retail framework.

Youngkin aimed to establish rules for hemp products, such as delta-8 and delta-10, which get people high but are legal to sell because they are largely unregulated.

The products, available in stores, smokehouses and other places, have been linked to the death of a 4-year-old boy in Spotsylvania, according to reports. There are several Republican proposals to crack down on these hemp products, including one for ban the sale of delta-8.

House Speaker Todd Gilbert (Shenandoah) said before this year’s legislative session that Republicans were waiting for Youngkin’s guidance on establishing a retail cannabis market.

The Republican bills in the House have yet to be heard in the subcommittee to which it is assigned. Both measures would repeal “social equity” provisions that Democrats prioritized during the legalization debate.

A Virginia Senate retail bill sponsored by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the lead sponsor of the legalization bill passed into law, is expected to pass the chamber as it did last year.

But the measure faces an uncertain fate in the House of Representatives, where the subcommittee is controlled by Republicans he refused last February.

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