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Virginia Governor Uninterested in Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Undeterred residents buying Maryland marijuana instead.

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Governor Glenn Youngkin has expressed his lack of interest in legalizing adult recreational marijuana use, reports the Washington Post, contrasting with neighboring Maryland’s recent launch of its recreational cannabis market.

According to Joseph Guthrie, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Governor Youngkin’s administration has no plans for further moves towards cannabis legalization. The statement reinforces the belief among Democrats, industry insiders, and law enforcement officials that Youngkin will likely sidestep the issue as he seeks to raise his national profile.

Maryland’s successful launch of its legal recreational market has put Virginia’s inaction in the spotlight. Since Maryland’s legal cannabis sales got underway on July 1,  licensed shops sold $20.9 million in legal weed products, according to the Maryland Cannabis Administration.

Although Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize cannabis two years ago, the absence of a legal recreational market has left aspiring entrepreneurs and consumers frustrated. Meanwhile, police and prosecutors grapple with the proliferation of creative workarounds that have emerged in the legal uncertainty.

Virginia’s status quo allows possession and home cultivation of marijuana but prohibits legal buying or selling. The absence of a regulated market has led to online orders, “weed parties,” and unregulated sales.

While 23 states have rolled back marijuana restrictions, Virginia’s political landscape has hindered progress. Democratic attempts to establish a recreational market were hindered when Youngkin was elected, and Republicans gained control of the state’s House of Delegates. The upcoming election may hold Virginia’s best hope for progress, as Democrats could potentially seize control of the State House. However, Youngkin’s potential veto power remains a significant obstacle.

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