GOP lawmakers in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking their first stab at legislation to open the retail marijuana market, introducing bills that would lower the tax rate on sales and redirect proposed social equity funding to school infrastructure. But leadership in the chamber stressed that the effort remains very much a work in progress and that they expect plenty of changes as the legislation makes its way through the committee system. “We’ll come up with something,” said Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Speaker Todd Gilbert, said last week. “There will be a bill. There may be multiple bills. But something is going to come out of this chamber.” Republicans unanimously opposed legalization when Democrats voted last year to allow people to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana. But Democratic lawmakers’ decision to leave it until this year to finalize the particulars of how a legal retail market would work—combined with the loss of their House majority in November—has left the once-reluctant GOP with a key role in deciding how to proceed. Gilbert said that while his caucus opposed legalization, he views it as imperative to come up with a mechanism for legal sales, complaining that the legal framework left in place by Democrats has only empowered the black market. The party has so far left the heavy lifting on that front to Del. Michael Webert, R-Fauquier, who was among a handful of GOP lawmakers to support reducing penalties for marijuana possession two years ago and is the only member of the party to introduce a comprehensive bill governing retail sales.
Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment, 01/24/2022 11:23:00