Virginia’s full House of Delegates has passed a bill to legalize marijuana sales.
The House voted 52 to 58 today to pass House Bill 698 through a third and final reading, officially sending the measure to the Senate which has been advancing a competing bill.
Under current law of the 24 states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Virginia is the only state that does not allow licensed marijuana sales. House Bill 698 would change this by allowing some existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana, while also issuing 60 licenses for marijuana microbusinesses that would open in early 2025.
“We only get one shot at growing a retail market in an orderly fashion, and we have to get it right”, Delegate Paul Krizek, the bill’s prime sponsor, said after the measure was approved Monday in a voice vote. “For that reason this bill establishes a realistic starting date and it increases the number of licensees incrementally.”
Late last month the Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 7 to 5 to pass a competing bill that would also legalize recreational marijuana sales, but would do so by establishing a system of licensed and regulated marijuana retail outlets, supplied by licensed growers and processors. Sales would also begin sometime in 2025, but the measure would not allow medical marijuana dispensaries to also sell recreational cannabis.
Under the Senate bill, cities would be allowed to ban marijuana stores, but only through voter approval. HB 698 allows cities to opt out without first needing to pass a voter-approved ordinance.
For the full text of HB 698, click here.