Let the People Decide—Culpeper Panel Supports Putting Marijuana Retail on the Ballot | Recent news
A county panel was leaning to let people decide future retail sales of recreational cannabis in Culpeper County for people ages 21 and older.
State law allows localities to hold voter referendums this year for the specific purpose of asking whether the retail sale of marijuana should be banned when it is allowed in 2024.
Last year, state lawmakers pushed for the legalization of adult possession of the plant during the Northam administration due to continued disproportionate arrests of black citizens for criminal marijuana offenses.
Culpeper County Administrator John Egertson raised the issue of the sale of legal weed here at the Rules Committee of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning.
He referred to Virginia’s marijuana legislation, which is evolving even as state lawmakers are now debating the framework during the current session.
Several bills are trying to speed up recreational sales for adults as of the start of the next fiscal year, July 1, 2022.
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Egertson told the county committee that state rules are still being reworked, with many different bills pending in the General Assembly right now.
“We don’t know how it will turn out in the end,” he said.
Current state legislation gives localities a window to hold an electoral referendum on the issue in 2022. If that action is approved by the full board, Culpeper voters would weigh in on retail marijuana sales in the city and county in the November elections.
“We’re allowed to do that, the city can too,” Egertson said of the local government counterpart where the majority of cannabis retail sales, once legal, would likely take place.
However, a county referendum in which a majority of voters say no to retail would also ban it downtown because the more diverse town of Culpeper is the seat of the more conservative county.
State law also allows localities to do nothing, not hold an election referendum, and simply let state law go into effect when it does with respect to the retail sale of cannabis. for recreational purposes to adults. this decision,” Egertson said.
A ban on the sale of marijuana could not be overturned in another referendum for at least four years, the county administrator added.
Egertson said he recommended not having a referendum in November, that the sale of recreational cannabis for adults was going to be a source of income “if this all comes to fruition”.
Counties will have the option to tax 3% on the trade in marijuana.
Committee chairman Gary Deal immediately referred the discussion to Jefferson’s supervisor, Brad Rosenberger, the most senior board member. Rosenberger said he thinks the people should decide. He then issued a warning against the use of cannabis, long stigmatized by the establishment.
“If someone wants to smoke a joint on the weekends,” he said, but can’t pass a drug test for their job as a bus driver, that’s something to think about, a Rosenberger said.
“It sets people up for failure,” he said. “People need to realize the ramifications this can have. It’s incredible.”
Rosenberger, a farmer who recently ran unopposed for a 10th term on the board, said a referendum should be considered.
“Let people in the community voice their concerns about whether or not this should be sold.”
Deal and Bates followed suit, recommending to the full board that a marijuana referendum question be included in the November ballot.
Bates said he was not a fan of state legalization for adult use. Whether marijuana is a gateway drug or not is a discussion for another day, he added.
Bates, a small business owner, said it’s hard enough to find employees who can meet the job requirements, whether it’s for a truck driver or a school bus driver.
“With tax revenue, I understand. Sometimes what looks good at first ends up costing us more,” he said.
Deal had no comment on the matter other than joking about a proposed county meal tax and how that might help with legal marijuana sales. Rosenberger remained firm on his position.
“The board should seriously consider holding a referendum to determine the outcome of this issue,” he said.
Culpeper City Council also received a recent briefing from City Manager Chris Hively on marijuana sales and state law.
The city may also hold a referendum of city voters on the issue, but this could be overruled by a different result in a county referendum.
Hively said there is pending legislation that could separate the city from the county, in which case legal cannabis sales could be banned outside city limits, but allowed inside city limits.
The city council has not taken a position on holding a referendum.