Virginians hoping to buy adult-use cannabis from licensed retailers by this September will likely have to wait longer.

Legislation to expedite sales for the state’s forthcoming adult-use program passed the Democratic-controlled Senate earlier this month, but the bill was rejected by Republican-controlled House subcommittee members Feb. 28.  

Senate Bill 313 would have allowed certain medical cannabis operators in the state to sell cannabis to the broader adult-use market starting Sept. 15, 2022, but it died along party lines Monday in the lower chamber, the Virginia Mercury reported.

“I think this is a bigger issue than we can correct in two weeks’ time,” said Del. Jay Leftwich, R-Chesapeake, referencing the Virginia General Assembly’s March 12 adjournment date for its 2022 legislative session.

The previous General Assembly legalized adult-use cannabis in March 2021, before an amended compromise bill was ultimately signed by former Gov. Ralph Northam in April. 

As a result, adults 21 and older have been allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to four plants per household since July 2021. But the full roll-out of an adult-use program was put on the backburner, subject to reenactment from the 2022 General Assembly.

Since the turn of the calendar year, Republicans have taken control of the governor’s office and the House, shifting the political power of dictating what was included in last year’s legislation and the timeline associated with the program.

Originally, 2021 Democrats set a goal to launch adult-use sales in 2024 but have had second thoughts since.

During the House subcommittee panel this week, Democrats urged their GOP colleagues to reconsider blocking S.B. 313 from moving forward with the September 2022 retail launch, the Mercury reported.

“The longer we wait to have a regulated market, the harder it will be to compete with that illicit market,” Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, said.