Virginia’s Full Senate Gives Approval to Bill Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Sales

Virginia’s full Senate has passed a bill to legalize marijuana sales, a day after the House of Delegates approved a competing measure.

The Senate has voted 21 to 18 today to pass Senate Bill 448 through its third and final reading. The measure, filed by Senator Aaron Rouse (D), now goes to the House of Delegates.

Given the House just approved a bill that would also legalize marijuana sales but with a differing approach, each chamber will need to decide if they’re going to pass the measure approved through the opposite chamber, of if they’ll establish a committee in order to coalesce the two measures. If they take the latter approach, both the House and Senate would need to vote to reconcile the two measures before it can be sent to Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Under current law recreational marijuana possession is legal for those 21 and older, but Virginia remains the only legal marijuana state to not allow licensed sales. SB 448 would establish a system of licensed and regulated marijuana retail outlets, supplied by licensed growers and processors. Sales would begin sometime in 2025, with cities having the option of banning marijuana stores, but only through voter approval.

House Bill 698 would allow some existing medical marijuana dispensaries and up to five hemp businesses to sell recreational marijuana, while also issuing 60 licenses for marijuana microbusinesses that would open in early 2025.

The House version of the bill would establish a 9% tax on marijuana sales, with the Senate version including a combination of taxes equaling 17.5%.

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