Virginia's Democratic Senate leader, Senate President Pro Tempore Louis Lucas, has hinted that her support for a plan to bring the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals to Alexandria might be contingent on the enactment of a marijuana sales legalization bill. In a social media post on Monday, Lucas expressed her desire for the recreational sale of marijuana and hinted at potential compromises during the legislative session.
The proposal to bring the two professional sports teams to Virginia includes a $2 billion entertainment district in Alexandria, featuring a stadium, practice facility, performing arts venue, and an updated esports facility. However, the project's success relies on obtaining support from the state legislature to create a new authority for issuing development bonds.
Lucas's comments drew attention and raised questions about the potential intersection of sports stadium approval and marijuana legalization. Some criticized the suggestion, likening it to vote-buying, but Lucas responded, quoting the first Black woman elected to Congress, stating that she is “un-bought and un-bossed.”
Louis Lucas has been a long-time advocate of marijuana legalization. In 2021, she called on her colleagues and then-Gov. Ralph Northam to make the change, which ultimately led to the end of cannabis prohibition in the state.
While the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bill for legal sales regulation this year, it was thwarted by a GOP House majority. The lack of legal sales locations has resulted in the proliferation of illegal, unlicensed storefronts across the state.
As Virginia Democrats now hold majorities in both the House and Senate, lawmakers are optimistic about progress in marijuana legalization. Sen. Adam Ebbin, who has been a key proponent of marijuana reform, expressed confidence that a bill to tax and regulate marijuana sales could reach Gov. Glenn Youngkin in the coming year. However, the challenge lies in garnering enough bipartisan support to avoid a potential veto.
While marijuana legalization remains a contentious issue, the changing political landscape in Virginia may present an opportunity for progress. Stay tuned for further developments as lawmakers navigate the complexities of both sports stadium approval and marijuana legalization in the state.