The Virginia Senate voted to speed up the timeline for retail marijuana sales Tuesday, approving a plan that would allow existing medical dispensaries to open sales to the general public in September. And, in what senators framed as a bid to give Virginia farmers a piece of what is expected to be a lucrative recreational market, the legislation also opens early sales to a handful of large industrial hemp processors. “This ensures consumers can purchase safe, regulated products legally,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, the bill’s patron. The proposed timeline represents a 16-month head start for the businesses over the 2024 start date still contemplated for the broader industry. But while the legislation cleared the Senate on a bipartisan, 23-16 vote, its final passage remains far from assured at the halfway point in Virginia’s legislative session.It and other marijuana bills still have to make it through the House of Delegates, where the GOP majority remains divided on how to proceed and was unwilling to even docket marijuana bills filed by its own members. The legislation also faces criticism from legalization advocates who accuse Democratic lawmakers of abandoning racial justice commitments made last year, which the party made central to its legalization push.

Marijuana Moment, Marijuana Moment, 02/15/2022 17:13:00

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