‘We have not legalized the actual purchase of marijuana’
During Tuesday's meeting of the Joint Commission on Cannabis Oversight, delegate Paul Krizek, D-Alexandria, stated, "We have legalized the use of marijuana, but we have not legalized the actual purchase of marijuana."
Members of the Commission seek to accelerate legal sales as a form of combating the already active black market, that has been bolstered through the legalization of the use of cannabis, without proper considering of the means by which individuals will go about getting their legal product. Nature abhors a vacuum, and with demand on the rise, would-be suppliers will naturally fill that void.
Last years' proposal from the four registered medical marijuana producers to allow them first access to legal recreational sales, while the new market, and lawmakers played catch-up, was denied, as it seemed to offer too unfair of an advantage over start-ups.
The Virginia medical cannabis industry is seeking temporary licenses to sell recreational cannabis through its existing infrastructure, while "incubating" five new social equity licensees. This simply means that these four medical companies will have the advantage of being licensed to sale until full regulations, and license requirements are issued through the state to everyone else, on the condition that they develop the commercial cultivation plans (SOPs, IPM, facility layout, etc.) for five social equity program participants.
The obvious question remains, if the regulatory requirements for medical cannabis producers is sufficient enough to issue licenses to cultivate recreationally, why would policy makers not build upon this framework, and the work of many other states, accelerating the issuance of licensing to everyone. Allowing the grace period for licensees to build the needed the infrastructure, and acquire the genetics needed to began commercial cultivation across the state.
The four medical cannabis companies could not hope to supply the demand that will emerge once legal sales go live. Creating and substaining this new market will take the host of licensees to balance, and that doesn't have to start in 2024.
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