PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Cannabis Outlet opened its doors Thursday in Portsmouth, the first day recreational marijuana became legal — with certain conditions — in Virginia.
It’s one of a number of businesses looking to capitalize on the growing popularity of marijuana-derived products as the commonwealth inches closer to full legalization.
Person after person filed into CJ Upton’s newest cannabis store on High Street.
He created the CBD Shop at the MacArthur Mall in Norfolk years ago after seeing how cannabis helped his parents manage their pain.
“My mom was recovering from cancer at the time,” he said. “She didn’t have good mobility of her hip, pelvis. My father had chronic back pain.”
Now, he gained a new business partner — state Senator Louise Lucas — and opened his latest shop in Portsmouth.
“I feel like it can help a disparity in economics for us as Black people,” he said. “We can have opportunity for ourselves because we’re the growers.”
Lucas, who introduced the marijuana legalization bill before it was signed into law, said the new law protects communities of color.
“Black and brown people are more likely than white people to get locked up for use of marijuana and get criminal records,” she said. “We want to make it such that we don’t have to worry about looking over our shoulders because you got one ounce of recreational marijuana.”
Marijuana sales still aren’t legal yet in the commonwealth, but the senator said it’s all about educating the community about the new changes.
“We want to make sure that part of this process is to educate people on the dos and the don’ts of the usage of marijuana. We’re not going to … let them leave here without making sure they understand what the law really says,” she said.
The story sells various CBD and hemp products and is not a marijuana dispensary.
Some businesses are looking to prepare for when they can legally sell medicinal marijuana in the future.