RD831 - Annual Report by the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority – December 15, 2021

Executive Summary:

Section 4.1-601 of the Code of Virginia (Code) creates the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (CCA or Authority). During Special Session I of 2021, the General Assembly passed the Cannabis Control Act (Act), Subtitle II of Title 4.1 of the Code of Virginia. While the Act includes a gradual enactment timeline and many sections that must be re-enacted, the sections that embody the CCA and some of its mandates became effective July 1, 2021. This report details the work of the CCA to implement effective sections of the Cannabis Control Act and to prepare for potential outcomes of reenactment. The report covers CCA activity from its creation through December 7 2021, as required by § 4.1-620.

JLARC predicted that a newly created agency would need at least two-and-a-half years between enactment of the law and the beginning of commercial sales to develop a well-regulated commercial market.(*1) This is at least six months longer than if regulatory authority was vested in an existing agency because the new agency would “need to have a director appointed, hire managers, and establish basic functions before it could create commercial market regulations."(*2) Over the last five and a half months, the CCA’s Board has endeavored to lay that foundational infrastructure—while also developing expertise in the field—so that the Authority will be well-poised to efficiently and thoughtfully develop regulations after details of the licensing and regulatory regime are reenacted by the 2022 General Assembly.

To date, the Board has held three public meetings(*3) to conduct its business, scheduled a fourth, and has worked with staff from the Governor’s Office to make progress between meetings -- all of which is described below. Additionally, the CCA has provided updates to the Cannabis Oversight Commission as requested.(*4) The Authority has adopted human resource and procurement policies; established needed financial processes; developed a FY’22 operating budget and FY’23-24 budget package for consideration by the Governor and General Assembly; and begun the process of hiring key staff. In the coming year, the Board looks forward to continue to expand the Authority’s capacity to achieve the mandates given to it by the General Assembly for the promotion of the health, safety, welfare, convenience, and prosperity of the people of the Commonwealth.
(*1) Key Considerations for Marijuana Legalization; JLARC Report 542, Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission, Nov. 16, 2020, http://jlarc.virginia.gov/landing-2020-marijuanalegalization.asp, at 153.
(*2) JLARC at 153.
(*3) Agendas and minutes for Board meetings are posted on the Commonwealth Calendar. See https://www.commonwealthcalendar.virginia.gov/. Members of the public are welcomed to and have attended each of the meetings.
(*4) See Joint Commission on Cannabis Oversight, Aug. 17, 2021 and Oct. 14, 2021, http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.