RICHMOND, Va. -- Marijuana became legal in Virginia on July 1. Happy Tree Agricultural Supply has seen its business double month to month since Virginia lawmakers voted to legalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
The Scott's Addition shop sells CBD, hemp, and home grow products, but Happy Trees and stores like it will not be allowed to sell marijuana seeds, per state law.
Under Virginia’s marijuana legalization laws, home cultivation of four plants is permitted, if the plants are labeled, out of public view, and away from children.
However, the selling of marijuana seeds will still be illegal, as will transporting them across state lines.
Virginians 21-years or older will be allowed to gift less than an ounce of marijuana to another person in private. The advocacy group Virginia Normal has a FAQ for those seeking clarification on the new laws.
For Happy Trees, the new law has brought in a boom of new customers who all have questions.
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“Business has been doubling month to month over month and we have a lot of people excited to get into this sector,” said co-founder Josiah Ickes on June 16. “There was this elderly couple, and they actually came in and all they did was drop a newspaper down that said marijuana legalization on it. Then, they just stared at me. It was really interesting because it was like they didn’t know what to do next, and that’s how a lot of people in the Commonwealth are.”
In a grow room next to the front register, Happy Trees has set up a display of how to cultivate marijuana inside at home using the correct materials and soil, but they are growing locally sourced tomato plants instead. Their tomato yields are donated to non-profits.
Co-founder Christopher Haynie, who heads the store’s horticulture efforts, said defoliating the tomato plants is an act of Zen for him each day. He doubts even when legal sales begin in Virginia three years from now, in-store retail grows will be allowed.
“The leaf doesn’t need to be there, then it goes away. It makes me happy,” Haynie said. “No marijuana will be grown here until the cannabis control authority releases strict regulations, and we get a license.”
Hayne said he spent several years working in three other states that already have legal marijuana markets. For Virginians thinking of navigating the new regulations to grow the plants at home, Haynie said proceed only with clarity and caution.
“What we don’t want in Virginia is for people who think they’re doing the right thing to inadvertently break the law and get in trouble for it,” he said. “It’s incumbent on us as responsible adults now that cannabis is legal in Virginia to follow the rules. I’ve never been much of a rule follower, but a lot of us have been waiting for this for a long time, so we’re not going to mess it up.”
For now, Happy Trees will only offer growing advice and equipment.
“I think we need to continue focusing on what we’re best at, and that’s helping educate people on how to grow the best plants possible,” Ickes said.
“As a responsible adult, the best thing you can do is read the regulations and/or consult an attorney,” said Haynie.
Virginia recently launched a state website to clarify what will and will not be allowed beginning July 1st. Visit cannabis.virginia.gov for more resources.
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