If Goochland County wants marijuana retail stores it will ask for them — at least that’s the position county leaders hope law makers will allow them to adopt.
On Oct. 5, county supervisors received an overview of Goochland’s proposed 2022 Legislative Agenda — essentially a summary of the Sept. 14 annual meeting involving the County’s legislative delegation, the Board of Supervisors, the School Board, Constitutional Officers, and representatives from the Electoral Board and Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District — and, of the four top priorities discussed, two related to the sale and distribution of marijuana.
The specific issue supervisors have zeroed in on is whether marijuana retail operations should be allowed to open up shop in a locality provided that no local ordinance has been enacted to prevent them from doing so.
Currently, according to state code, a locality must enact legislation to ban the operations from opening their doors. Goochland leaders, however, would like to see just the opposite: they would prefer marijuana retail stores be prohibited unless a locality approves them via a local referendum.
Essentially, said County Administrative Services Director Paul Drumwright during his presentation to the board, “We believe we should not have to incur the time and expense of prohibiting something and instead should go through the process only if we were going to allow it.”
Drumwright noted that the initial legislation had prohibited marijuana retail operations unless approved by localities, but that the language had been changed at some point in the legislative process.
The county is also requesting that lawmakers amend the state code to prohibit marijuana cultivation facilities from selling plants or seeds directly to customers, since they feel that this should remain a function of retail operations only.
Regardless of how lawmakers proceed, it remains to be seen what kind of impact may be seen once marijuana retail stores are allowed to open legally in Virginia.
A 2020 study that looked at marijuana legalization between 2000 and 2019 found that the substantial changes in its legal status hadn’t had “much overall effect on marijuana use by children and adolescents, at least during the past two decades,” according to the American Journal of Public Health. It said “prevalence of marijuana use among adolescents has remained remarkably steady over the past 20 years despite substantial changes in its legality.”
Cathy Dyson of The Free Lance-Star contributed to this report.