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Virginia’s Legalized Cannabis: Questions Arise Over Regulated Sales and Safety

The big issue, for some, is now that cannabis is legal people don’t currently have a way to safely get it. Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Distirct 30) explained what is currently legal for cannabis.

“Personal possession of cannabis of up to an ounce on one’s person has been legal in Virginia now for a few years, for adults 21 and older. It’s also legal to grow a limited number of plants for personal use for Virginians and it’s legal to grow some cannabis and give it as a gift to an adult 21 or older, what’s not yet legal is the regulated sale of tested products that are taxed and available to adults over 21 in the Commonwealth and it seems to me, and many Virginians that if cannabis is legal that you should be able to legally purchase it,” Sen. Ebbin said.

Sen. Ebbin explained how people are getting cannabis, even though selling it is currently not legal.

“People are either getting it through the medical program if they have an ailment that someone written a doctor’s certification that they need cannabis to best treat their ailment, or they can grow their own or they can purchase it on the black market, which is not legal, which is also potentially dangerous because the products they are buying aren’t tested,” Sen. Ebbin said.

Trent Woloveck works for Jushi, a company that sells medical cannabis in multiple Virginia locations. Woloveck spoke about the complications in Virginia.

“Currently Virginia is decriminalized from a cannabis perspective, that happened in July of 2021. However, there is no commercial adult-use program, so there is no way to procure cannabis unless you are a medical patient,” Woloveck said. “That means going to a physician and getting a recommendation and then coming into one of the medical stores in the commonwealth.”

Woloveck also added that the issue of public health stems from the illegal purchasing of cannabis.

“There is a caregiver program, within the commonwealth, and or they have to turn to the illicit market. And so, they are getting untested, unverified product that they are having to consume and unfortunately, that is a major public health and safety issue. And so, hopefully, this coming legislative session we can find a common ground to ensure good third-party tested seed-to-sale track,” Woloveck said.

Sen. Ebbin also spoke about why they had legalized weed in the first place.

“When we legalized it, we did that because we wanted to stop people from receiving any kind of penalty for use of this plant…but the House of Delegates had been the hang-up, in terms of considering a well thought out regulatory regime and that was largely because the Republican leadership, the then Speaker of the House, just would not a bill to advance whatsoever, and would not put forward his own constructive plan on the table,” Sen. Ebbin said.

Now the Democrats have taken the House of Delegates. According, to Sen. Ebbin, a bill will go to the governor’s desk.

“I am confident with Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate, that we can get a bill to the governor’s desk. The challenge is going to be we want to make that bill bipartisan anyway. We want the governor to see the bipartisan support,” Sen. Ebbin said.

Overall, Sen. Ebbin hopes they will be able to pass a bill to make cannabis legal to sell.

“I’m not going to go into the full details of the bill because we are just getting the final draft details together still with legislative services, but I would say the focus of the bill is to provide legal sales to consenting adults and to clamp down on the black market and see that adults that chose to use cannabis get a product that is tested and safer than an unregulated black market product that you just don’t know what you are getting,” Sen. Ebbin said.

Source: WSET