Youngkin Vetoes Two Top Legislative Priorities for VA Dems

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AP Photo/Steve Helber

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Thursday vetoed seven bills, including one that would have established a legal marijuana market in the commonwealth and another that would’ve mandated a minimum wage increase. 

While Virginia legalized marijuana in 2021, allowing residents age 21 and up to possess and cultivate the drug at home, retail sales were not set up at the time, and changes in political power since then have blocked the effort from moving forward.

In a statement, Youngkin explained why he was opposed to Virginia allowing commercial sales of the drug.

“The proposed legalization of retail marijuana in the Commonwealth endangers 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. It also does not eliminate the illegal black-market sale of cannabis, nor guarantee product safety. Addressing the inconsistencies in enforcement and regulation in Virginia’s current laws does not justify expanding access to cannabis, following the failed paths of other states and endangering Virginians’ health and safety,” said Youngkin, explaining his veto of HB 698 and SB 448.

Youngkin also shot down efforts to bump the current $12/hour minimum wage to $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2025, and then to $15 the following year, arguing the bills would “imperil market freedom and economic competitiveness.”

“Today I am also vetoing bills that would implement drastic wage mandates, raise costs on families and small businesses, jeopardize jobs, and fail to recognize regional economic differences across Virginia,”he said.

The governor’s action on 107 bills in all came days after he vetoed dozens of gun control bills advanced by Virginia Democrats. 

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