May 12, 2021
County supervisors to mull Va. marijuana law Thursday
Citizens 21 and older legally can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and can grow up to four plants in Virginia, starting July 1. But, much remains to be determined about commercial growing and retail sales, which will start in 2024.
At this point, I’ve got more questions than answers. The legislation is fairly new. I don’t think it’s well understood by everybody.
— Supervisor Holder Trumbo
Fauquier’s board of supervisors Thursday afternoon will get an “introduction” to new Virginia law that will legalize marijuana on July 1.
Approved by the state General Assembly and Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in April, the complex law addresses various possession, cultivation, penalty and retail sales matters.
Two board work sessions Thursday will include an overview of the law as well as discussion of revenue and potential local regulatory opportunities.
The county planning commission briefly discussed legalized marijuana at its April meeting.
Under the new law, marijuana retail sales won’t start in Virginia until Jan. 1, 2024.
If they choose, local governments can conduct referendums to allow citizens to decide whether to “prohibit” retail sales of the drug.
County Attorney Tracy A. Gallehr and County Zoning Administrator Amy Rogers will lead a scheduled 4 p.m. work session on marijuana legislation.
In a separate 3:30 p.m. work session Thursday, Fauquier’s paid consulting state “legislative liaison” Eldon James will discuss the new marijuana law as a part of a presentation on state lawmakers’ actions during the 2021 General Assembly session.
Among other things, Mr. James, a veteran Richmond-based lobbyist, tracks legislation of interest to Fauquier and other local governments across the state.
“My discussion will just be where are there local options for regulation or decisions that need to be made by the board of supervisors in the future,” Mrs. Gallehr explained.
County Zoning Administrator Amy Rogers will “lead the zoning discussion,” the county attorney said.
The option to give Fauquier voters a chance to decide whether to prohibit local retail sales through a referendum also probably will be discussed Thursday, Mrs. Gallehr said.
Local governments can collect a 3-percent sales tax on retail marijuana purchases, according to state law.
A new state authority, yet to be created, will determine which companies receive limited state licenses to grow or process marijuana.
“It is an introduction,” Mrs. Gallehr said of the staff’s Thursday work session in the Warren Green Building at 10 Hotel St. in Warrenton. “Here are your options as a local governing body. What direction do you want staff to take?”
Supervisor Holder Trumbo (Scott District) looks forward to learning more about the Virginia’s marijuana laws.
“At this point, I’ve got more questions than answers,” Mr. Trumbo said. “I want to hear the presentation. The legislation is fairly new. I don’t think it’s well understood by everybody. And, frankly, I think the public needs time to absorb it.”
Beginning July 1, adults 21 years and older legally may possess up to one ounce of marijuana, according to state law.
Adults caught with more than an ounce face various penalties, depending on quantities.
Beginning July 1, Virginians also legally can maintain up to four marijuana plants per household for their use and “gift” up to an ounce at a time of the substance to other adults.
Virginia this year became the 16th state to legalize marijuana and the first in the South to do so.
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