2020-21 Improvements and Recommendations

2020 and 2021 were busy years for Virginia’s state legislators when it came to cannabis. Governor Northam signed HB2312 in April 2021 making Virginia the first state in the south to legalize cannabis for all adults over 21. Proponents of the bill claim it prioritizes social equity; already any records involving simple possession are sealed from police databases, there is also a timeline to seal all criminal records for simple possession in private databases by 2025. The bill also creates a Business Equity & Diversity Support Team at the Cannabis Control Authority to assist qualified applicants and do outreach to minority communities, it also draws on 30% of the taxed revenue to create a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund to issue low interest loans to qualified applicants. The bill sets out a three-year timeline for retail sales to begin in the state, but residents are feeling the effects already as the new rules for simple possession and home cultivation of up to four plants per household went into effect at the beginning of July.

After several years of being limited to processed cannabis products, patients in Virginia will finally be allowed to buy unprocessed flower at their local dispensaries.

ASA encourages Virginia’s legislators to focus their efforts on addressing the areas where they left gaps in the rush to legalize cannabis for all adults. Virginia is the only state that has medical cannabis access for patients but no form of caregiver status to help with acquisition or dosing, this is a critical failure that must be fixed. The state must also provide protections for patient discrimination in housing, family court or child custody hearings, from roadside sobriety testing, and from refusal to perform organ transplants. The state should also authorize existing and future retailers to allow curbside pickup and delivery to patients.