Two competing bills to legalize commercial marijuana sales in Virginia are now headed to votes on the floors of the House of Delegates and Senate, setting up a possible clash between lawmakers and advocates who disagree on the best way to open a retail market in the commonwealth.
On Thursday, legislation in the Senate—SB 448, from Sen. Aaron R. Rouse (D)—passed out of the body’s Finance and Appropriations Committee on a 9–5 vote, with one member abstaining. That was the measure’s final stop in a multi-committee process and it next proceeds to the Senate floor.
A separate House proposal, meanwhile—HB 698, from Rep. Paul Krizek (D)—advanced out of committee earlier in the week and is set for floor debate on Friday.
Both measures face a crossover deadline Tuesday, at which point they must be passed out of their chamber of origin in order to remain alive for the session.
Despite many similarities in the two plans, sharp differences remain that have divided stakeholders. Existing medical marijuana businesses prefer the House measure, which would allow them to begin sales on January 1, 2025—earlier than all but about two dozen equity-focused microbusinesses. Other retailers would open later in the year.
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