Lawmakers debate whether Va. localities could opt out of legal marijuana sales
RICHMOND, Va. — Legislation to legalize marijuana is close to being a done-deal in Virginia, but the details are still up for debate. A draft of the bill by the state Senate could allow specific areas in Virginia to decide whether they want it at all.
There are two versions of the marijuana legalization bill; one in Virginia’s House and another in the state Senate.
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If passed, the Senate’s bill would legalize marijuana in Virginia but localities could decide not to allow for its sale.
State Senators from Central Virginia, on both sides of the aisle, agree localities should have this discretion.
“Every locality might not want to have dispensaries so that provision was added to make sure there was a little bit of a local option,” Democratic Senator Creigh Deeds said.
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Senators said the bill is not finished yet and is subject to change.
“No matter where you buy in the state you’ll be able to smoke it in the state,” Republican Senator Mark Peake said. “Some localities just might not want to sanction the sale of the drug.”
Senators still need to look at the bill from the House, which does not include this provision for localities.
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The provision in the Senate bill could still get taken out during deliberations before it even reaches the governor’s desk.