Legislators in Virginia spent last week trying to bring together Senate and House cannabis legalization bills in an attempt to reach an agreement on matters such as criminal penalties and business licensing before a looming legislative deadline.
Each chamber had approved its own legalization measure earlier in the month, based on a plan that was introduced at the start of the year by other leaders of the state, who had in 2020 pledged to legalize marijuana. The two initiatives are similar in many ways but have a few differences that span various topics.
Both initiatives — SB 1406 and HB 2312 — would permit individuals who are 21 years and above to grow up to four marijuana plants and buy up to an ounce of cannabis. Additionally, both retail sales and commercial production would be state regulated, while tax imposed on the legal cannabis industry would be directed to various investments.
Both legislations would also establish a new body whose purpose would be to regulate marijuana instead of having the alcohol authority in the state do so. However, the proposals had been amended as they made their rounds through the respective chambers, which brought about the differences. For instance, the House bill would not remove any penalties till later in 2024, which would align with legal sales launching, while the Senate proposal would legalize personal possession of cannabis later in 2021.
Additionally, while both measures would give regulators the power to limit the amount of business license holders in the state, the Senate proposal would limit grower licenses any person can hold while the House proposal would limit individual license holders to just five licenses each, to help prevent the monopolization of the market by large cannabis firms.
Other differences include how violations under the new legislations would be punished. The Senate bill suggested that penalties for consuming marijuana in public be brought down to a misdemeanor instead of the $25 fine that is currently imposed. However, the proposal would criminalize consumption of marijuana in a car that was moving, even if the person is consuming a marijuana edible.
On the other hand, the House proposal would subject a $25 fine for minors who were found with marijuana, in addition to being referred to a treatment program or substance education. Additionally, the Senate proposal would subject a $250 fine for first offenders and jail time or criminal charges for certain convictions.
It should be noted though that, under both measures, the state of Virginia’s first legal adult-use marijuana sale wouldn’t take place until 2024, regardless of whether the state’s legislators approved a reconciled legalization measure in the near future or not.
Meanwhile, plenty of cannabis firms are thriving in states that have legalized marijuana in some form. For example, Golden Leaf Holdings Ltd. (CSE: GLH) (OTCQB: GLDFF) registered revenue that exceeded its 2019 total revenue by the third quarter of last year.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Golden Leaf Holdings Ltd. (CSE: GLH) (OTCQB: GLDFF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/GLDFF
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