The Virginia House of Representatives and the Senate both accepted the governor’s amendment to their respective statutes to legalize marijuana in the state, including a revision that will postpone the schedule to allow adults to own and grow cannabis for personal use this summer Year 2024.

Governor Ralph Northam (D) was strongly in favor of the reform, and lawmakers sent bills to his desk in February to legalize adult marijuana. Late last month, the governor officially put an alternate language to the bills, and on Wednesday both houses approved the proposed changes to their own versions, with the House accepting its revised Measure 53-44 and the Senate voting its legislation approved by 21-20, whereby Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax (D) breaks a tie.

After those initial votes, both bodies passed the opposing chamber’s bill, as amended, which means the bill will now be passed without further action from the governor, as Northam’s revisions were approved as presented.

One of the most notable changes is that the possession of cannabis by adults aged 21 and over will be legal on July 1 of this year, not January 1, 2024 as was originally intended.

In addition to ownership, cultivation at home is also permitted from July. Plants would need to be labeled with “identification information, out of the public eye and out of the reach of anyone under the age of 21”.

The governor also asked lawmakers to pass an amendment to speed up the automatic evictions of those with previous marijuana convictions, and they accepted that motion.

“We made history as the first state in the south to legalize the simple possession of marijuana,” said Northam in a press release following the polls. “I am delighted that the General Assembly has accepted my proposal to make this change on July 1, 2021, almost three years ahead of schedule. Marijuana laws are specifically designed to target color communities, and black Virginians are disproportionately likely to be stopped, charged, and convicted. Today, Virginia has taken a critical step to correct these mistakes and do justice to those harmed by decades of over-criminalization. “

It’s official – Virginia just passed historic law on July 1, 2021 legalizing the simple possession of marijuana.

This is a monumental step in eliminating racial disparities in our criminal justice system and building a just, inclusive future for our Commonwealth.

– Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 8, 2021

In addition, its surrogate law provides immediate funding for a public awareness campaign “on the health and safety risks of marijuana” and money for law enforcement training to train officials to “recognize and prevent drug-driving”.

Another change is that regulators should be empowered to “revoke a company’s business license if they interfere with union organizing efforts, fail to pay wages set by the Department of Labor, or designate more than ten percent of employees as independent contractors,” according to one Summary from Northam’s office.

– –
Marijuana Moment is pursuing more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics, and drug policy bills in state legislatures and in Congress this year. Patreon backers pledging at least $ 25 per month will have access to our interactive maps, charts, and audio calendar so they don’t miss out on developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a Patreon supporter for access.
– –

Sales are slated to begin in 2024.

Proponents said they were happy with some revisions but wanted more from the governor.

Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, described the reform as “an incredible victory” that will “put an end to the thousands of low-level marijuana violations that occur annually in the Commonwealth and end a discriminatory practice that is too much.” often directed against young Virginians, poor and colored people. “

“While a number of important improvements have been made, we are disappointed that Virginia is not following the sensible paths previously set by other states that have successfully expanded from medicinal use to adult use,” said Pedini, who also as said the national development director for NORML. “In the interests of public safety and consumer safety, Virginians 21 and older should be able to purchase cannabis products in retail stores in 2021 rather than in pharmacies already in operation in 2024. Such a delay will only worsen the gap between applicants for equity and encourage illegal activity. ”

While the Senate’s legalization bill would have legalized legalization in effect on July 1, the House hesitated, calling for a start date for 2024 in its proposal – with that chamber triumphing in bicameral negotiations to form a final bill that was sent to the desk should be sent by the governor.

But days after the Northam first signaled that it would be open to certain provisions of the legalization measure coming into effect earlier, House leaders joined the call. Spokeswoman Eileen Filler-Corn (D) said: “Changes are long overdue and it cannot wait. “

The speaker celebrated the final legislative measure on Wednesday.

With the governor’s changes, we will have made tremendous strides today in ending the targeted control of black and brown Virgins through the selective enforcement of the marijuana ban by the summer of this year.

– Eileen Filler-Corn (@EFillerCorn) April 7, 2021

I said weeks ago that the time to act has come and today the house hit that moment.

– Eileen Filler-Corn (@EFillerCorn) April 7, 2021

House majority leader Charniele Herring (D), who was the main sponsor of the Legalization Act in her chamber, said she was “excited to see if it bears fruit”.

The governor’s changes to my marijuana legalization bill have officially gone through the House of Delegates! I am so proud to have implemented this monumental piece of legislation and I am thrilled to see it come true. pic.twitter.com/yUWyAg3p9s

– Charniele Herring (@C_Herring), April 7, 2021

Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who advocated legalization before Northam and leading lawmakers, said the state “made history as the first state in the South to legalize marijuana, a huge step in the right direction for criminal justice reform “.

My office will continue to work with lawmakers to make sure marijuana records are cleared and we make the industry fairer.

– Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) April 7, 2021

Separately, the House and Senate also approved proposed amendments by the governor to a legislative budget bill, including a request for an additional $ 1 million to aid law enforcement training to identify driving disorders and an additional $ 1 million for “marijuana” Prevention and education programs ”and campaigns in the field of public health. “

Describing the changes he would like to incorporate into budget law, Northam said in a letter to lawmakers last week that funding for public education would include programs that “target youth and college-age populations” .

Stakeholders, including the Virginia ACLU and the Marijuana Justice Department, have been extremely critical of lawmakers’ first move to delay legalization until 2024.

Meanwhile, a Republican Congressman recently wrote to Northam calling marijuana a “gateway drug” and asking the governor to veto the legislation as a whole – a proposal that was rejected.

Support for marijuana legalization is strong in Virginia, according to a poll released in February. It found that more than two-thirds of adults in the Commonwealth (68 percent) are in favor of adult legalization, including a slim majority (51 percent) of Republican voters.

The South Carolina Senator threatens to block “every other bill” if medical marijuana is not voted

Photo courtesy Brian Shamblen.

Marihuana Moment is made possible with the support of readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to keep up to date, please consider making a monthly Patreon Pledge.