In an interview last week with Virginia Business, Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin said he “will not seek to overturn” the Legislature-approved law on personal cannabis possession but that there “is a lot of work to be done” on retail sales.
The governor added that while he is “not against” the reforms — which were approved by lawmakers last February and signed into law by outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in March — there are some “nonstarters” in the bill, including “forced unionization.”
“There have been concerns expressed by law enforcement in how the gap in the laws can actually be enforced. Finally, there’s a real need to make sure that we aren’t promoting an anti-competitive industry. I do understand that there are preferences to make sure that all participants in the industry are qualified to do the industry well.” — Youngin to Virginia Business
Youngin indicated support for social equity provisions in the law — which apply to minority communities most impacted by the war on drugs and women- and veteran-owned businesses — and that the state’s cannabis industry rules and regulations needed to make sure “they have the capabilities to compete and thrive in the industry.”
“So, I think there’s work to be done,” he said in the interview. “All of that will be on the table. Again, I don’t look to overturn the bill, but I think we need to make sure that it works.”
With the passage of the law last year, Virginia became the first Southern state to approve broad cannabis legalization. Youngkin has previously expressed doubt regarding the revenues derived from cannabis legalization in states where the reforms have been enacted and described it as “another problem” that would be “dumped at [his] feet.”
“And the reality is, if I had a group of kids here that were asking me about marijuana use, I would tell them don’t use it,” he said in a CNBC interview last May. “The reality is that the industry that everyone used as the rationale for legalizing it, has not performed in other states. They’ve already predicated a bunch of spending on it and the reality is I’m going to have to deal with this when I’m governor.”
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