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Virginia creates cannabis agency to regulate budding industry July 1, 2021
Virginia creates cannabis agency to regulate budding industry

It is legal to possess and grow your own marijuana starting Thursday, but retail sales of the plant won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2024. Licenses will be doled out by the newly established Virginia Cannabis Control Authority. (BizSense file)

Virginia took a step closer to a recreational marijuana market Thursday with the establishment of the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority, which will set up and regulate the budding industry.

Today also marked the legalization of possession and personal cultivation of marijuana in the commonwealth, while legal sales of the plant are slated to begin Jan. 1, 2024.

The law, which passed through the General Assembly earlier this year, also provides the framework for the state’s marijuana industry and spells out the powers of the authority’s board of directors.

In broad strokes, the authority will establish regulations, issue licenses and carry out a social equity plan for the industry. Gov. Ralph Northam’s picks for the board and authority’s CEO hadn’t been named yet as of Wednesday afternoon.

The authority’s board is empowered to grant, suspend and revoke licenses needed by businesses to operate as cogs in the larger machine that will be the recreational marijuana industry.

It’s expected that it will be possible to apply for a marijuana business license in 2023. The finer details of the licensing process haven’t been established yet.

There could be as many as 400 retail licenses, 450 cultivation licenses, 60 manufacturing licenses and 25 wholesale licenses statewide, though the board will determine the actual number of licenses in play for each category, said Sen. Adam Ebbin, a chief patron of the Senate’s version of the legalization bill.

Sen. Adam Ebbin

“I think the General Assembly is open to meeting the demand, but for a start we thought a limit made sense,” Ebbin said. “This will be a new industry and we wanted to do all we can to make it right.”

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