Youngkin vetoes cannabis bill citing public safety and health despite lack of research to back up claims


Gov. Youngkin vetoed a democratically passed cannabis adult-use market bill maintaining his blockage to set up the Virginia legal market. Democrats legalized adult-use cannabis in 2021, but a shift to a republican controlled government stopped any implementation. 

Democrats sent a bill to Gov. Youngkin’s desk a few weeks ago that would launch the market. He let it sit on his desk, but said people who thought he would sign it “must be smoking something.” 

He vetoed the Bill yesterday citing the endangerment of Virginians’ health and safety. “States following this path have seen adverse effects on children’s and adolescent’s health and safety, increased gang activity and violent crime, significant deterioration in mental health, decreased road safety, and significant costs associated with retail marijuana that far exceed tax revenue,” he wrote in his veto statement

However, research does not back up his claims. Much of the increase in illicit markets in California and New York is due to poor implementation. Legalizing cannabis doesn’t lead to a surge in teen use, and one study said there is no increase at all.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, the leader of Virginia’s pro-legalization Marijuana Justice group wrote on X: “Gov Younkin’s commitment to perpetuating the harms of the drug is deeply embarrassing. With the stroke of a pen he has reinforced yet another barrier for Virginians. This doesn’t just impact individuals, it reverberates through families, education & housing.” 

As the Governor continues to stall on implementation, the illicit market continues to grow in Virginia. Adult sharing cannabis clubs continue to pop up mimicking D.C.’s gray cannabis market, and over 90% of patients purchase cannabis from sources other than the Virginia medical market due to high prices in the medical market. The largest proportion of product is obtained from the unregulated market, according to the state’s own study.


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