Frequently Asked Questions about Virgina's Cannabis market - SOLVED!
Virginia Cannabis Regulations and Licensing Process
Virginia’s recreational marijuana industry is currently in limbo after the projected start date for legal sales on Jan. 1, 2024, was put on hold.
Virginia legalized adult-use marijuana for adults 21 and older in 2021, allowing possession and cultivation of up to four plants, with legal sales to begin no later than Jan. 1, 2024. However, the law required the General Assembly to later reenact provisions detailing a regulatory and market structure.
The prospects for reenacting those measures have dimmed after the November 2021 state election, where Republicans regained control of the governor’s office and the House of Delegates. A pair of Republican-sponsored cannabis regulatory bills, which would have set up a licensing scheme for sales in 2024, were killed in a subcommittee, along with a similar Democratic bill. Encouragement from GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin appears to have contributed to the failure of these bills.
Budget Cuts and Public Health Crisis:
There is also a proposal to cut nearly 70% from the budget of Virginia’s Cannabis Control Authority. The absence of legal adult-use retail has led to illicit-market alternatives, and a rise in untested products, leading to concerns from both Republicans and Democrats of a “public health crisis.”
Current Stance of State Officials:
Gov. Youngkin is pushing for a bill to regulate hemp-derived cannabinoids but seems reluctant to advance any adult-use cannabis legislation. Lobbyists and industry observers see this as a sign that the governor is not interested in moving forward with the adult-use market.
The situation remains uncertain for the existing medical cannabis license holders and potential new market entrants. Virginia’s marketplace’s future depends on the political landscape, and it remains unclear when regulations will be solidified and legal sales will begin. The General Assembly elections this November, where every delegate and senator seat is up for election, could be the most significant factor affecting the outlook for legalization.
On July 1, 2021, the law authorized the creation of the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA), a new, independent political subdivision (“an authority”) to regulate the marijuana industry, including issuing licenses for businesses, creating health and safety guidelines, and promoting diversity within the industry. . On July 19, 2021, Governor Northam appointed members of the Cannabis Control Authority’s Board of Directors. The Board, along with a CEO, will lead the creation of an adult-use marketplace. The CCA will not complete marijuana regulations or begin accepting applications for businesses before 2023.
It will not be legal to sell marijuana before 2024. Until then, it remains a crime to sell any amount of marijuana. If the licensing provisions of the bill are reenacted (approved again) in the 2022 General Assembly session, you will likely be able to apply for a marijuana business license in 2023. More instructions and guidance for people wanting to start a marijuana business will be released before the application period begins.
Not at this time. The Cannabis Control Authority will be created this summer, and will hire staff, begin the regulatory process, and start engaging more directly with interested stakeholders over the next two years.
The law authorizing the creation of Virginia’s Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) took effect on July 1, 2021. However, the CCA will need time to hire staff and create regulations before licensing can begin. Additionally, many of the regulatory sections of the bill must be reenacted (approved again) by the 2022 General Assembly before becoming law. So, it is too early to say what the Virginia cannabis licensing process will entail. If the licensing provisions are reenacted, you will likely be first able to apply for marijuana business licenses in 2023. More instructions and guidance for people wanting to start a marijuana business will be released prior to that date.
As written, HB2312 and SB1406 contemplate application fees to start a marijuana business. However, these fees may vary depending on the type of business and your application status. For example, individuals or companies that qualify for a “social equity applicants” license will qualify for technical support and reduced or waived fees. There will be a Cannabis Equity Business Support Team within the Cannabis Control Authority that will provide guidance and support during the licensing process for applicants who qualify. Notably, the details of the licensing process must be reenacted (approved again) by the 2022 General Assembly before becoming law. So, it is too early to say precisely what the licensing process will entail.