Va.’s budding marijuana industry took root in RVA and grew in ’21

RBiz – At the end of what was already a milestone year for marijuana in Virginia, a recent decision by state lawmakers could be seen as an early Christmas present for the state’s medical marijuana operators.

The General Assembly’s Cannabis Oversight Commission, which oversees the implementation of marijuana legislation, voted in mid-December to recommend the launch of the recreational market be moved forward a year to January 2023.

Initially, only the state’s already-licensed medical marijuana operators would be able to sell recreational marijuana — with other businesses able to get in on the action a year later.

Currently, the start date for sales of recreational marijuana in Virginia is slated to be January 2024 for everybody.

The commission’s recommendation will next be sent to the wider General Assembly, which will have to reenact previously passed legislation to allow the retail market to launch.

It was in July when the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority came into being. The authority’s board of directors has met several times to work at standing up a new state agency, Northam administration policy advisor Megan Field told the oversight commission in mid-December.

It wasn’t long after the authority’s establishment that conversations among lawmakers turned to whether the rollout of the recreational retail market should come sooner than January 2024.

In the November elections, the GOP took the governorship and the majority in the House of Delegates, which could spell further changes to legislation initially passed by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and signed by a Democratic governor. Only time will tell.

As lawmakers discussed legislation during 2021, local entrepreneurs thought up new ways to make some green for themselves in the nascent industry.

The year saw the launch of Bong Butler, a bong cleaning service, as well as marijuana plant-sitting service The Key RVA among other businesses looking to carve their own niches in the industry still taking shape.

Green Leaf  Medical offers a free marijuana delivery service for its customers.

Richmond’s resident medical marijuana operator Green Leaf Medical also stayed busy this year.

Green Leaf, which operates a cultivation and processing facility in Manchester, opened its first satellite retail dispensary in a former fast-food joint in Short Pump in November. The company is preparing to open another dispensary in Carytown.

Columbia Care, a New York-based medical marijuana company, acquired Green Leaf in a $240 million deal that closed in June. Columbia Care holds the medical marijuana operator license in eastern Virginia.

Green Leaf also rolled out smokable marijuana buds and joints in September. And October marked the one-year anniversary of the start of medical marijuana sales in Virginia.

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