Both houses of the Virginia Legislature agreed to a finalized version of the bill to commercialize marijuana in the commonwealth. If this bill is to be signed into law, Virginia will become only the third state in the nation to commercialize marijuana via the legislative process.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration released the following statement in response:
“Today’s votes and the overall legalization effort is the result of a rushed process where hardly any time was given to thoroughly examine the potential harms of commercialization and voices of the many experts and professionals from the fields of substance abuse prevention and medicine were essentially stifled. This is extremely unfortunate.
“Through this process, Virginia lawmakers have repeatedly drawn inspiration from Big Marijuana’s playbook by extolling how commercialization in Virginia would result in social equity, but as we have seen in state after state — especially recently from the only other state to fully commercialize via the state legislature, Illinois — these grand promises of social equity amount to nothing more than empty words as the industry is quickly taken over by wealthy, overwhelmingly white investors and corporate interests. There is little reason to expect Virginia’s experience will be any different, especially given the fact that Altria Phillip Morris has had an active hand in this process.
“As we move forward, we will work to ensure our coalition of experts in the fields of medicine, substance abuse prevention, education, and other concerned Virginias continues to expose industry underhandedness and also works with local communities to pushback on commercialization in order to keep their neighborhoods safe.”