Virginia Governor Promises to Introduce Marijuana Legalization Measure

In the wake of an Election Day that saw five states legalize marijuana in various ways, it seems Virginia might be the next domino to fall.

On Monday, Governor Ralph Northam said he will introduce legislation to do so in his state. Quoted by TV station WSET, Northam put it bluntly: “It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia.”

Such a measure needs to be approved by the General Assembly, the state’s legislature. This consists of the House of Delegates, which has 100 members, and the Senate, which has 40. The Democrats — who typically favor legalization initiatives — have a 55-45 advantage in the former and a slim (21 to 19) majority in the latter.

Virginia road sign with marijuana leaf.

Image source: Getty Images.

At the moment, the only cannabis-related product fully legal for sale and consumption is cannabidiol (CBD) oil. In line with federal law, hemp-derived CBD oil is legal throughout the country; that of the marijuana-derived variety is not. Virginia has legalized the latter only as part of its medical marijuana program.

Earlier this year the state also decriminalized simple possession of marijuana, eliminating criminal charges for holding it and replacing them with a $25 civil penalty.

It’s likely that more than one of the country’s multistate operators (MSOs) would consider entering the state if legalization occurs. It’s realistic to think that ambitious players in the retail space such as Curaleaf (OTC:CURLF) and Cresco Labs (OTC:CRLBF) will contemplate setting up shop there.

Neither Curaleaf nor Cresco has yet commented on the latest development in the state. The shares of both companies rose in trading on Monday, with Curealeaf inching 0.4% higher and Cresco increasing roughly in line with the S&P 500 index at a 1.7% clip.

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