Richmond, VA – This morning, House Republicans in a General Laws subcommittee chose to take no action on critical legislation that would have put a stop to the illicit marijuana market and established the legal marketplace. They were handed a plan and failed to act on what Speaker Gilbert referred to as a “live grenade…rolling around.” After years of work, this is beyond disappointing and puts Virginians at risk.
House Democratic Leadership released the following statements in response to this morning’s actions:
“The General Assembly did years of heavy lifting on this significant legislative effort – all Governor Youngkin and House Republicans had to do was take a simple vote to finalize Virginia’s legal market,” said House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn. “Republican lack of action today allows the illicit market to thrive and decades of disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws to go unaddressed.”
“Despite our best efforts to have conversations that would lead to a functional piece of legislation that would both deal with the emerging black market and ensure that we are dealing with the historical, regressive nature of cannabis law that saw disproportionate overenforcement of communities of color, our calls for civil discussion and compromise were met with absolute refusal to talk about the very necessary social equity and opportunity components of this legislation,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “Dealing with past structural issues in enforcement and policing can only help as we move into the future with a legal market.”
Today’s Republican vote to kill SB 391 comes after years of research and debate that included members from both parties. In the 2020 legislative session, the General Assembly decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijauna. In December 2020, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Council (JLARC) released a comprehensive year-long report on the impact of legalization in other states across the nation, which provided the framework for the General Assembly to pass legislation initiating the creation of a legal, equitable marketplace in the 2021 legislative session. Earlier this month House Republicans killed Republican Delegate Michael Webert’s HB 950 to finalize legal sales in Virginia as well.