In April 2021, Virginia enacted legislation that legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The bill HB 2312 was approved by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by governor Ralph Northam in 2021 making it the first southern state to legalize recreational marijuana.
The Virginia Cannabis Control Authority, led by a board of five directors, has the job of creating rules, granting licenses, and supervising the growth, production, and sale of cannabis and cannabis products in stores.
The licensing application period is still being determined. Virginia lawmakers must resolve an impasse over recreational cannabis sales before applications can become available.
There will be a maximum limit on the number of license holders: 400 for retailers, 25 for wholesalers, 450 for cultivators, and 60 for product manufacturers. However, it’s important to note that these restrictions won’t apply to current medical cannabis enterprises and hemp processors
The law establishes four types of licensed businesses:
- Product Manufacturer
There could potentially also be specialized licenses introduced for testers and transporters.
Preference for licenses will be given to social equity applicants, who are described as having 66% or more of their owners meeting any of these criteria: (1) previous cannabis conviction, (2) a close relative with a cannabis conviction, (3) residing in a region that has been disproportionately affected by cannabis enforcement or is economically challenged, or (4) graduating from a historically black college or university (HBCU) in Virginia. Social equity applicants will enjoy reduced application fees and will receive priority status from July 1, 2023 to January 1, 2024.