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Dual Bills Progress in Virginia Aiming to Establish Commercial Adult Use Sales in 2025

Virginia lawmakers have made progress on dual bills that would create a framework for commercial adult-use sales in the state, nearly three years after it legalized adult-use cannabis.

While Virginia officially legalized possession and cultivation of up to four cannabis plants for adults age 21 and older in July 2021, the picture for recreational sales remains complex.

Numerous delays mean that commercial sales remain on hold indefinitely until new legislation is passed to outline the framework for businesses.

Now, two separate bills are making their way through the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate.

On February 12, the House passed the third and final reading of House Bill 698, meaning it is now due to be sent to the Senate.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 448 arrived on the Senate floor on the same day, receiving initial approval, with a third and final reading expected later this week. If passed, each bill will then be sent to the opposing chamber to be discussed and voted upon.

House Bill 698 would enable 60 microbusinesses to begin cultivating adult-use cannabis in July 2024, with a view to starting sales on January 1, 2025.

This bill would place an emphasis on social equity and require business applicants to be at least 66% owned by someone who meets the social equity criteria.

It would also enable the state’s existing medical cannabis operators, Jushi Holdings, Green Thumb Industries, and The Cannabist Company, to pay a one-time fee of $2.4 million to operate in the adult-use market, the proceeds of which would be given to the microbusinesses via an accelerator programme.

After six months of sales, new businesses would be able to apply for licences, while HB 698 would also impose a 9% excise tax on cannabis, one of the lowest in the US.

SB 448, while also aiming to see adult-use sales by January 2025, would not include provisions for microbusinesses or give a head start to social equity applicants. It would also impose nearly double the amount of tax at 17.5%.

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