RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Adults could soon be able to buy marijuana from a medical provider without a prescription thanks to a bill in the Virginia Senate that passed Tuesday with a bipartisan vote. The bill establishes the regulatory framework for the recreational marijuana market.

The bill says certain medical providers could sell cannabis to adults starting Sept. 15 until the full legal market opens in 2024. It’s a step up from the current law that says you need a prescription to buy marijuana from a dispensary.

Medical cannabis dispensary Columbia Care just bought Richmond dispensary company gLeaf. Ngiste Abebe with Columbia Care calls the bipartisan vote to pass the bill “a historic moment.”

She said the bill, if signed into law, would benefit providers like Columbia Care and gLeaf, but also patients.

“One of the fastest ways to be able to make medical cannabis more affordable is when we are able to co-locate adult use and medical cannabis sales in the same place,” Abebe said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), said the bill is the first step in building a responsible adult-use market that will give an opportunity for the industry to grow in Virginia.

“My bill will require that those who get an early sales advantage incubate smaller businesses and those who would like to get into the market,” he explained.

However, advocates like Chelsea Higgs Wise with Marijuana Justice say the bill doesn’t do enough to help those previously punished by older, stricter marijuana laws who now want to get into the recreational marijuana business.

Wise is concerned allowing certain medical cannabis providers and hemp manufacturers to enter the market early will leave the push for social equity behind.

“How are we going to celebrate a win in legalization when our day one of legal sales excludes the most impacted by the war on drugs?” she asked.

House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore (R-Lee County) said they’ll absolutely be making changes to the bill when it comes over to the House of Delegates, focusing on enforcement and regulation.

“So that you don’t have someone selling on every streetcorner. Nobody wants that,” he said.

Virginia lawmakers legalized simple possession and growing a small amount of marijuana last year without the regulatory market framework in place.