Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Virginia Governor and AG Staff Cannabis Oversight Boards

Governor Ralph Northam appoints members to cannabis oversight boards. (Courtesy of Unsplash)

VIRGINIA — With the new laws concerning adult marijuana use having taken effect on July 1, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has begun to staff newlyformed cannabis regulatory oversight boards.

In a press release sent out on Monday, July 19, Northam named a total of 14 appointees to three different regulatory boards: the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA), Cannabis Equity Board (CERB) and the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board (CPHAB).

“Virginia is committed to legalizing cannabis the right way—by learning from other states, by listening to public health and safety experts, and by centering social equity,” Northam said. “There is a tremendous amount of work ahead to establish an adult-use marijuana market in our Commonwealth, and I am proud to appoint these talented Virginians who will bring diverse backgrounds, an incredible depth of expertise, and a shared commitment to public service to this important effort.”

The Cannabis Control Authority is the regulatory agency for the legal cannabis market in Virginia. Northam appointed five leaders to the CCA board of supervisors from both business and legal fields, who do not have financial interests in the cannabis industry.

The board will work to create a fair and equitable regulatory structure and provide critical guidance to the CCA’s staff as they work to develop a workforce, establish regulations, and ensure that marijuana legalization accomplishes the health, safety, and equity goals established by law.

The CERB will be in charge of overseeing the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund. The new cannabis laws earmark 30 percent of the tax revenue, projected to be at least $7.8 million by 2024,  from cannabis sales for the fund. The fund will be managed by a 20-person board which will disperse the money in support of communities disproportionately effected by the enforcement of drug laws and economic reinvestment.

The CPHAB is a 21-member expert advisory council to the CCA Board of Directors. This board is tasked with assessing the trends and impacts that correlate with the legalization of marijuana, as well as making recommendations on public health awareness, programming and related resources. The council must approve any health-related regulations before the CCA can finalize them.

Additionally, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring announced in a press release that he wants to hire Virginia’s first full-time, dedicated cannabis attorney. The attorney will provide general counsel to the CCA while also assisting other state agencies regarding regulations and laws regarding cannabis.

“By decriminalizing and now legalizing simple possession we’ve taken the most important and urgent steps to stop the harm caused by cannabis prohibition,” said Attorney General Herring. “Now comes the hard work of building a safe, stable regulatory system that protects public health and the environment and ensures a safe, fair, and equitable marketplace that encourages opportunity amongst the communities who have been most harmed by the War on Drugs approach of the past.”


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