Youngkin Blocks Legal Pot Market, Minimum Wage Increase in VA

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TL/DR –

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has vetoed bills to establish a state-regulated marketplace for marijuana and to raise the state’s minimum wage. Youngkin argued the minimum wage increase would contribute to inflation and harm businesses in rural areas, while stating the marijuana legislation “endangers Virginians’ health and safety”. The governor’s vetoes are among actions taken on 107 bills, of which he signed 100 and vetoed seven.


Gov. Glenn Youngkin Vetoes State-Regulated Marijuana Market and Minimum Wage Increase Bills in Virginia

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed bills intending to establish a state-regulated marijuana market and increase Virginia’s minimum wage. This decision came a day after his plans for a sports arena in Alexandria faced opposition, causing Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis to retain the project in the District.

Both bill sets, seen as bargaining chips for Youngkin to secure Democratic support for the $2 billion arena project, were vetoed even as the governor avoided explicit veto declarations during arena discussions.

In his veto message, Youngkin reasoned that the measures would contribute to inflation, harm rural businesses and decrease Virginia’s competitiveness. He believed that successful states focus on creating an economic environment conducive to wage growth rather than setting labor prices.

The governor’s stance, however, was met with criticism. Sen. Saddam Salim (D-Fairfax) expressed on Twitter that the veto makes Virginia worse for workers and struggling families and urged for lifting up the working class rather than pushing for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Regarding the marijuana bills, Youngkin cited health and safety concerns for Virginians. He stated the legislation does not eliminate the illegal black-market sale of cannabis or guarantee product safety. A more prudent approach, according to him, would be to revisit enforcement discrepancies.

Despite the disbelief in establishing a safe marketplace, lawmakers criticized Youngkin’s dismissive stance. Sen. Aaron Rouse (D-Virginia Beach) emphasized on Twitter the public servants’ obligation to resolve pressing issues and believed this legislation would have combated the illegal market while ensuring access to safe, tested and taxed cannabis products.

Besides these notable bills, Youngkin vetoed related measures such as HB 157 and SB696, which he cited would harm small farmers and undermine public safety, respectively.

Currently, Youngkin’s vetoes this year total 87, nearing the record of 120 set by former governor Terry McAuliffe and accumulated over his four-year term.

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