RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Retail sales of recreational marijuana are one step closer to becoming a reality in Virginia.
On Thursday, Jan. 25, a Senate subcommittee approved a bill that would allow retail marijuana sales to begin in up to 400 stores starting Jan. 1, 2025.
The subcommittee chose this bill, patroned by Sen. Aaron Rouse, D-Virginia Beach, over a different bill with a more staggered timeline.
This other bill would have allowed the state’s four medical marijuana processors to begin selling recreational marijuana in July, while serving as an incubator for small and minority businesses that wanted to get into the industry in the following January.
Advocates expressed concern about the delayed start for small businesses within the other bill.
“There is no guarantee that they would be operational in six months, or ever — and there is also no penalty for the medical operators if they never get them operational,” said Chelsea Higgs Wise of Marijuana Justice.
Rouse agreed, saying his bill would give smaller processors a better chance.
“My bill is certainly one to provide a framework for Virginians, and small business owners, and those who want to start a business in the cannabis industry — without being drowned out by the big guys,” Rouse said.
Rouse’s bill still would still task regulators to take several factors into account…