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Marijuana sales in Virginia could start this year, but small farmers and social equity advocates worry they’ll be shut out

Brenda Waller put together what she thought was an excellent proposal in 2018 for a chance to win one of five medicinal marijuana dispensary licenses in Virginia. She paid the $10,000 fee and waited.

Months later, Waller watched as the state announced the companies that would be awarded licenses. She was not on the list.

Since then, Waller began growing and processing industrial hemp in Halifax County on a farm she took over from her father. And after recreational marijuana was legalized in Virginia last year, she’s hoping for a second chance to get into the nascent cannabis market by growing pot to sell. But as Virginia lawmakers this year work to create the recreational marijuana market, Waller, who is Black, said she’s concerned that she and other minority farmers will be shut out.

“The same mistakes that were made in other states, as I read about their social equity programs, it’s going to happen here in Virginia, too,” Waller said.

Concerns over social equity — who will get access to the new market and when — have been among the biggest sources of debate as state lawmakers work to build the framework for the new recreational marijuana industry. [Read More @ The Washington Post]

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