Virginia Governor Vetoes Invoice To Legalize Hashish Gross sales


Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin on Thursday vetoed a invoice to legalize leisure marijuana gross sales, saying that regulated gross sales of hashish could be a hazard to well being and security. Virginia legalized the possession of small quantities of weed three years in the past, however shoppers stay with out a authorized technique to buy hashish within the state.

The governor vetoed two similar payments handed by every chamber of the state legislature, SB 448 within the Senate and HB 698 within the Home of Delegates. The laws would have established a regulated hashish market in Virginia, together with provisions for the licensing of small and enormous retailers. 

Virginia lawmakers legalized the possession of small quantities of marijuana for adults in 2021. However when the Republicans took management of the Home of Delegates following an election later that 12 months, a required second vote to legalize regulated hashish gross sales was by no means held. 

“The proposed legalization of retail marijuana within the Commonwealth endangers Virginians’ well being and security,” Youngkin mentioned in his veto statement. “States following this path have seen hostile results on kids’s and adolescent’s well being and security, elevated gang exercise and violent crime, vital deterioration in psychological well being, decreased highway security, and vital prices related to retail marijuana that far exceed tax income.”

“It additionally doesn’t remove the unlawful black-market sale of hashish, nor assure product security,” the governor continued. “Addressing the inconsistencies in enforcement and regulation in Virginia’s present legal guidelines doesn’t justify increasing entry to hashish, following the failed paths of different states and endangering Virginians’ well being and security.”

Whereas Youngkin had beforehand made it clear he was not eager about authorizing regulated weed gross sales in Virginia, Democrats had hoped the laws which function a bargaining chip in negotiations for a plan supported by the governor to construct a $2 billion sports activities complicated in northern Virginia. However earlier this month, the legislature handed the state’s last price range with out together with funding for the proposal, setting the stage for Thursday’s veto of the hashish gross sales invoice.

Lawmakers Blast Veto

Democratic Delegate Paul Krizek, the lead sponsor of the weed market invoice within the Virginia Home of Delegates, mentioned that the governor’s veto will additional empower the state’s unregulated weed financial system.

“Governor Youngkin’s failure to behave permits an already thriving unlawful hashish market to persist, fueling felony exercise and endangering our communities,” he said in a statement cited by Politico. “This veto squandered a significant alternative to safeguard Virginians and can solely exacerbate the proliferation of illicit merchandise, posing better dangers to our faculties and public security.”

Democratic state Senator Aaron R. Rouse, the sponsor of the Senate model of the invoice, additionally decried Youngkin’s refusal to approve the laws.

“This veto blocks a pivotal alternative to advance public well being, security, and justice in our Commonwealth,” Rouse said in a written assertion to the Related Press.

Rouse additional criticized Youngkin’s veto of the marijuana gross sales payments on social media, writing on X that the governor’s “dismissive stance in direction of addressing Virginia’s hashish gross sales dilemma is unacceptable. Public servants are obligated to deal with urgent points. This laws would have combated the unlawful market & ensured entry to protected, examined and taxed hashish merchandise.”

Governor Additionally Nixes Hashish Sentencing Invoice

Youngkin additionally vetoed a hashish sentence modification invoice (SB 696) spearheaded by the Final Prisoner Venture, a nonprofit working to safe the discharge of all hashish prisoners. Adrian Rocha, coverage supervisor on the group, denounced the veto as a continuation of outdated coverage.

“Beneath the invoice, 1000’s of people charged for hashish offenses below outdated legal guidelines would have had their sentences reevaluated in gentle of legalization,” he wrote in an announcement emailed to Excessive Occasions. “As an alternative, the Governor’s veto message not solely ignored the intention of this invoice however, extra importantly, ignored the plight of 1000’s of households throughout the Commonwealth whose lives have been completely altered by prohibitionist legal guidelines repealed three years in the past!”

“Virginia could have ended hashish prohibition in 2021, however there stays a big injustice for these people who proceed to be incarcerated for offenses which can be not thought of unlawful,” Rocha added.

Though Youngkin nixed each payments, Democrats nonetheless have one other probability to make them legislation by overriding his vetoes. The legislature returns to the capitol on April 17 to rethink payments vetoed or amended by the governor.

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