A Senate panel in Virginia met Thursday to begin hammering out differences between two separate bills that would legalize commercial cannabis sales in the state, hearing public testimony and digging into issues such as social equity, licensing, and regulatory enforcement.
While both measures—SB 423 from Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and SB 448 from Sen. Aaron Rouse (D)—would establish frameworks allowing retail cannabis sales to begin, the proposals represent slightly different policy priorities.
Ebbin’s bill, for example, prioritizes opening the legal market quickly by allowing the state’s existing medical cannabis operators to sell recreational products almost immediately. Rouse’s measure, by contrast, would take longer to implement legal sales, but supporters say it would put businesses on a fairer footing by not giving any one group of operators a head start.
“In this bill, no one applicant is preferred over another,” Rouse said of his legislation. “SB 448 is the only option to prevent multi-state operators from monopolizing the market and ensure that all licensees have an equal and meaningful opportunity to participate in this market.”
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