Governor Northam Releases Report On Cannabis Legalization

Virginia’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened for registered patients in October, but progress toward cannabis legalization in Virginia continues with the release of a new report from the current administration.

Governor Northam today released a report by his administration on the impact of legal cannabis in the Commonwealth, which is part of cannabis decriminalization legislation passed earlier this year.

Governor Northam approved decriminalization legislation in March and announced his support for full cannabis legalization in mid-November, revealing plans to introduce and support relevant legislation.

The cannabis legalization report comes from a diverse group of stakeholders, including community leaders, healthcare professionals, policy experts, and government officials, who comprise the Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group.

According to a press release, the Work Group consulted with dozens of experts in drafting its recommendations and included equity-focused organizations such as the Minority Cannabis Business Association, NoLef Turns, and Decriminalize Virginia.

The Work Group also worked with government officials from states that have already legalized cannabis, and extensively involved health policy consultants and practicing physicians in the project.

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security led the Work Group, which held a total of 15 public meetings between July and October of 2020.

“We will advance new laws to make sure that our Commonwealth legalizes marijuana the right way,” says Governor Northam. “Virginia has studied the experience of other states and this report lays out a path forward that leads with social equity, public health, and public safety.”

The 400-page report contains meeting minutes and provides details of different facets of implementing a cannabis legalization system in the Commonwealth, including taxes, licensing, regulation, consumer safety, banking, and criminal justice.

The report also includes five key principles that Governor Northam wants included in a final cannabis legalization bill—appropriate data collection, upholding the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act, protections for young people, substance abuse protections for schools and communities, and social, racial, and economic equity.