Marijuana Legalization: Can Virginia Expect it in 2020?


Dec. 3 2019, Updated 8:14 a.m. ET

Marijuana is strictly prohibited in Virginia. All forms of marijuana are illegal in the state. Yet, recreational cannabis sales went live in Michigan on Sunday. To know more about this, read Recreational Marijuana Sales Go Live in Michigan. Furthermore, Illinois will legalize marijuana on January 1, 2020. While the other states are pushing for legalization, let’s see what steps Virginia is taking.

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What actions is Virginia taking for legalization?

In June, the Daily Press reported Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring discussed his views about the unfair marijuana laws in the state. He feels decriminalization is the first step the state should take as it costs the state money dealing with marijuana convictions.

Additionally, treating marijuana usage as a criminal offense leads to racial disparity. According to the Daily Press, marijuana convictions had increased from 6,500 in 2008 to 10,000 in 2017.  Furthermore, he added that the state should look at legalizing marijuana, as well. A Newsweek article in June mentioned that both Democrats and Republicans supported Attorney General Mark Herring’s stance on decriminalization.

On November 19, a Marijuana Moment article stated that Senator Adam Ebbin introduced a bill to decriminalize the possession of cannabis. It appears that this bill has a better chance as Democrats hold the majority in both the House of Delegates and Senate now. The state elections held in November decided the fate of Virginia, with Democrats holding the majority now. We have seen earlier that Republicans are not a fan of cannabis legalization.

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Talking about this, Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, said, “The new majority creates a real pathway for the passage of decriminalization in the 2020 General Assembly.” The new bill would now charge anyone possessing up to one ounce of cannabis to a maximum civil penalty of $50.

Marijuana laws in Virginia

Marijuana laws are strict in Virginia. Possessing even a small amount of weed in the state is termed as a misdemeanor offense. Currently, as per the state law, possessing marijuana could lead up to 30 days in jail and possibly a fine of $500 for a first offense. Any further offense will lead up to 12 months in jail and up to a fine of $2,500. To learn detailed information about marijuana laws and penalties in the state, click here.

Moreover, in Virginia, if a person is charged with a drug offense, it could lead to difficulties in getting employment and housing. This is because marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug under federal law.

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However, when it comes to usage of CBD, Virginia is slightly lenient on the rules. In 2015, the state passed an affirmative defense law allowing CBD oil and THC-A oil for the treatment of epilepsy. Furthermore, Virginia extended this law in 2018 and now allows CBD and THC to be used for any diagnosed condition.

However, the law also clearly states that each dose of CBD or THC-A oil must contain a minimum of 5 milligrams of CBD or THC-A. Also, it is vital that it may contain up to 10 milligrams of THC (or Tetrahydrocannabinol). To know more about the medical cannabis process in Virginia, click here.

Do Virginia residents support marijuana legalization?

Virginia residents, like many other Americans, are in support of legalization. An article in Weisberg & Weisberg, PLLC, discussed how a survey in Virginia showed people’s support for legalization. Per the law firm, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Swing State Poll this year showed 86% of voters want medical marijuana legalized in Virginia. Meanwhile, 54% of voters wish to get adult-use marijuana legalized.

Another poll conducted by the University of Mary Washington showed 61% want recreational marijuana legalized while 34% oppose it.

The factors that could motivate the states to push for legalization are job growth and tax revenue. Since federally weed is not legal, hence the tax revenues go to the states now. A Leafly Report in March stated the legal marijuana industry contributed to 64,389 full-time jobs in the US in 2018.

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Residents in other states like Florida and Kansas have taken things into their hands. Voters are launching campaigns and collecting signatures for bills to be passed for legalization in the 2020 elections in Florida. Cannabis company MedMen (MMEN) (MMNFF) started one of the campaigns called “Make it Legal” in Florida. Already, the company has a firm footing in the state.

MedMen sees 105% YoY revenue growth

MedMen reported its Q1 2020 results on November 26. The company saw a growth in revenue across the US states where it operates. Notably, the company saw a 105% YoY (year-over-year) increase in revenue in its first quarter. Also, MedMen opened three new stores in Florida during the first quarter.

Additionally, after the first quarter ended, MedMen opened another four stores, bringing the total to eight stores in Florida now. To know more about MedMen’s Q1 results, read Key Takeaways from MedMen’s First-Quarter Earnings.

Marijuana companies see big losses

Besides MedMen, other cannabis players that reported earnings in November were Canopy Growth (WEED), Aurora Cannabis (ACB), and Cronos Group (CRON). The earnings results from these cannabis companies weren’t what analysts and investors expected. Hence, it took a hit on the entire sector. As the year comes to an end, the cannabis sector has suffered huge losses.

YTD (year-to-date), MedMen lost 84.6%. Also, Aurora stock and Canopy stock (CGC) lost 50.8% and 32.4%, respectively, YTD. Cronos stock and Aphria stock (APHA) shrunk by 37.4% and 18.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (HMMJ) fell 37.0% YTD.

To get more cannabis-related news, check out 420 Investor Daily.


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