Recreational Marijuana Soon to Be De-Facto Legal in Northern Virginia

Photo credit: Rip Dog Photography

by DJ Rippert

Elections have consequences. The recent presidential election along with the Georgia run-off election has secured Democratic control of Congress with no serious risk of presidential veto. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., has tried for years to establish a recreational marijuana marketplace only to be thwarted by Republicans in Congress. Finally, in the 2020 session Virginia’s General Assembly passed legislation that made the possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by a fine so low that it could hardly be compared to a parking ticket ($25). This combination of events will soon have Northern Virginians buying marijuana in D.C. and bringing the weed back to the Old Dominion to consume. D.C. will profit while Virginia gets nothing.

A bridge too close. While this sometimes gets lost on Bacon’s Rebellion, Northern Virginia is a suburb of Washington, D.C.  In fact, D.C. is a short and somewhat pleasant walk from Rosslyn (in Northern Virginia) over the Key Bridge. There’s a good reason that Dixie Liquor (interesting name) has operated in D.C. across from the Key Bridge since 1934. Over the years Dixie has provided many a Northern Virginian spirits at a price well below the ABC store gouging. One wonders how long it will take for the Dixie Dispensary to open nearby.

In addition to walking, Northern Virginians can drive, take the Metro or “Uber” from their homes into D.C. Many NoVa residents do just that for work, to see a show at the Kennedy Center, catch a Wizards, Nats or Capitals game or partake of the wide variety of “things to do” in our nation’s capital. Soon, legally buying marijuana will be added to the attractions Northern Virginians seek in Washington. What will stop them? The dispensaries in DC will be only too happy to sell to NoVa adults. There is no appetite among Northern Virginia jurisdictions for enforcement of the minimal marijuana possession laws that do exist. The next nearest state with legal recreational marijuana sales is Massachusetts. The die is cast. Let’s hope the bridges between NoVa and D.C. can handle the extra traffic.

Et tu, Maryland? If it’s easy to get to DC from NoVa it’s even more of cinch from Maryland. A few steps across Western Avenue will take a pedestrian from Chevy Chase, Md., into Washington, D.C. I’m willing to bet that D.C. dispensary licenses near the Maryland border will be almost as coveted as those close to the bridges leading into DC from Virginia. It won’t take long for Maryland legislators to smell the acrid smoke of lost taxes wafting from DC’s dispensaries. Maryland’s legislative session begins today and already has one legalization bill being put forth by the aptly named Jazz Lewis. When (not if) Maryland legalizes recreational use marijuana, more Virginians will have easy access to legal pot.

The Virginia Way strikes again. The legalized sale of recreational marijuana takes some doing. Laws have to be passed. Regulations have to be written. Growers and grow sites have to be found. Licenses to produce marijuana have to be issued. Dispensaries have to be established along with licenses for retail sales. Most states begin this process through the legalization of medical marijuana. Legalization of medical marijuana establishes a framework of growers and sellers that can be expanded to support recreational sales. Maryland and D.C. have established medical marijuana operations.  ven West Virginia has legalized medical marijuana, although that state has been slow to get the operation up and running. Virginia allows only the manufacture and sale of low-THC products like CBD oil. While state after state legalized medical marijuana our legislators stared out the windows of the state capitol at the statue of Harry Byrd while daydreaming of happier times in the past. Now that the inevitable and easy-to-predict dominos of legalization are falling all around us, we are well behind our neighboring states. Even if we act in this session of the General Assembly, years of tax revenue will be lost to other states and D.C. before Virginia gets recreational pot sales up and running.

A note to social conservatives. You lost this one. It’s over. But please note — This article does not delve into the theory, morality or wisdom of legalizing marijuana. It simply states the facts and makes obvious predictions like D.C. establishing a retail market for marijuana sales as soon as the feds allow. Equally obvious is the fact that lots of Virginians use marijuana today and many of those those Virginians are likely to go to D.C., Maryland or even West Virginia to buy their pot once those jurisdictions legalize recreational use and establish retail operations. No tax revenue will accrue to Virginia, it will all go to the neighboring jurisdictions. Meanwhile, Virginia’s stance will not dissuade anybody from using marijuana — for medical or recreational purposes. We are in a lose-lose position due to the intransigence of our state’s antique and moth-eaten politicians.

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66 responses to “Recreational Marijuana Soon to Be De-Facto Legal in Northern Virginia

  1. I saw a movie as a child that said that marijuana would drive you crazy!

    • Ha ha.

      What drives me crazy is having Virginia’s Democratic politicians’ hands evermore in my pockets while we watch millions of dollars in tax revenue vanish across the Key Bridge.

  2. Baconator with extra cheese

    When free college, guaranteed income, and health care comes my way all this old NonPOC is going to do is smoke weed and sit in gender studies classes.
    And man I will be gobbling down free blue pills.

  3. Ripper. Let’s get together soon. Maybe the whole crowd!

  4. gateway drug according to Conservaives, no?

  5. Virginia is “rolling” in dough, with Secretary Layne announcing another major cash haul today. The General Assembly has plenty of boodle, too freaking much actually. The money is not relevant, and if Virginia does not tax your weed, that just means the prices are lower or the profit margins fatter. Spare me the tax inducement argument — too much of it will come from those who cannot really afford (as with gambling, etc.) YOU can volunteer to pay more…

    For me, 2022 will be like 1972 and following. I never had to pay for any of that s&%t. 🙂 Just showed up and used somebody else’s….shameless moocher.

    • I knew we had something in common!
      “Hey, gimme a cigarette. I left mine in the machine.”

    • Ah the social conservative emerges … We have so much money we don’t need any more. We’re flush forever. No need to legalize weed. Steve, Steve, Steve … do you really think Northam and the Nutcakes are done? Or McAullife and the Mutant Morons? There is never any end to how high taxes will go with a Democrat trifecta. At least with legal marijuana they will be able to slake their thirst for more of our money for a bit longer.

      • I simply said do it or not on the merits, not for the money. Although like the other sin taxes, gambling, etc, it is clear who pays the most and it is those who can least afford….

  6. Baconator with extra cheese

    I disagree. Marajuana legalization will make tax revenues go through the roof! We have all learned that this and weed crime expungement will allow thousands of Black fathers to come home, get good jobs with their awesome RVA educations, end crime due to “drug wars and associated gangs”, and raise Black families out of poverty. A rising tide lifts all boats! Without these weed prosecutions we won’t even need police or jails! Cha-ching more tax money saved! (I sure hope so…)
    It’s like magic dude.

  7. Baconator with extra cheese

    Actually I don’t cate if it’s legal….
    Just spare us all this is the silver bullet crap… Altria wants to make gazillions..
    ‘Nuf said.

  8. Baconator with extra cheese

    But I am looking forward to the GA decriminalizing public urination. I have no shame and will be happy to whip it out in any doorway or alley when I’m downtown. Finding a john really sucks… plus I usually feel bad and buy something in return as a “flush tax”.

    • In Singapore the elevators have urine detectors in them. Apparently, they set off an alarm and close the doors so the perp can’t get away till the cops show up.

      • Which brings up….employment testing! Hmm, who will put in the companion bill that makes it illegal to refuse to hire, or later fire, an employee who fails a urine test for THC? I don’t see industrial concerns like the shipyard relaxing that, for example. But, but, but….it’s no different than alcohol, right? How DARE they prevent or punish use by their employees on their own time!! Lots of jobs still out there where such testing is common and carries major sanctions. Expect such testing to explode, actually.

        https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/fall2019/pages/marijuana-and-the-workplace-its-complicated.aspx

        • X44 1972 pre-testing, half those guys would light up a joint as soon as we left the shack headed for the jobs. Old guy I was apprentice to, used to light up as soon as we crawled into a boiler.

        • I must admit that, in my youth, I drank enough and stayed out late enough that I was a bit “off” the next morning. Does anybody at the shipyard test for residual alcohol at the start of a shift? Military pilots have a “bottle to throttle” time of 24 hours as I recall (it may be 12). Airline pilots have an 8 hour “bottle to throttle” limit I guess.

          Don’t tell me the shipyards aren’t worried about residual alcohol. Really?

          • Not a rule I worried about as their lobbyist! I do know that if there was an accident, you could expect tests for everything.

          • The “railroads” have rule “G”. Where if your manager suspects you’re under the influence they can pull you and send you for testing. If you’re hot, it’s not just a rip, it’s a you’re never gonna work here again.

            That also stems from in the early days everyone who worked in the gangs used to drink beer vs water and smoke hash when digging ditches. I believe it was an Amtrak crash in the 80’s that changed that all. Thus Rule G was born.

          • re: “hot” – is it like alcohol where there are threshold numbers so that it could be detected but at lower levels or is it – if it is detected in any level – you’re out?

          • Larry,

            It’s absolute zero, it’s a covered service job. It’s a near universal operating rule across all Class 1 railroads.

          • all substances including alcohol?

            for all public carriers?

          • Railroads Larry, Railroads.

            Yes, all substances, you cannot be intoxicated in any manner and be on duty for the railroad.

            When you are required by law to haul toxic substances to include chlorine gas and reactors and are hauling several 100 of tons. It would be best if you weren’t high as a kite.

          • yep, got that. Asking if you know what the rails do is fairly uniform for other public and common carriers?

            One might think that operators of such equipment might be uniformly tested and frequently.

            Last thing in the world I’d want is to get on an aircraft the morning after one of the pilots has “enjoyed” the night before.

          • Larry,

            Railroad employee’s are subject to random testing outside of possible rule G violations, nothing more.

      • Baconator with extra cheese

        You mean the air just doesn’t turn purple in there?

    • I am similar, where I won’t use a facility without purchasing something. It drives my wife crazy.

  9. I partook irregularly in high school, and did so almost exclusively at a particular friend’s home. Her parents were senior embassy officials, leading to the notion within our friend group that their McLean property was inviolable with regards to law enforcement. Whatever the actual case, it certainly added an air of mystique to what was otherwise a thoroughly conventional activity done by thoroughly conventional kids.

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I used to love pinching the potheads in my 27 year teaching career. They were so easy to bust. Then a good thing happened. The potheads realized it was better to do it before or after school, not during school. Then came along a thing known as vaping. I pinched those guys too. All you had to do was follow the fruit flavored vapor smell into the bathroom. Stand outside a stall and wait until this enormous cloud was released by a kid gasping for air. You know the student body liked what I did. They did not want either one in the schools but were afraid to stand up and be called out for it. My last year, I was known as the “Vaporizer”.

    • Lol. No kids should drink alcohol, smoke pot or use tobacco. I know they do but they need people like you to enforce the rules.

    • My father the shop teacher used to have students smoke cigarettes in the welding booths. He removed the curtains and that was no longer an issue.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        At Stonewall Jackson High they removed the stalls in the bathroom to stop the smokers. It worked. One terrible side effect. You had to wait until you made it home to go number 2. I had a 90 one way bus ride. Then it was a 1/2 mile walk from the bus stop to the house down a rutted dirt road.
        Somedays were pure hell.

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