Virginia Legislature Passes Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Bill

Cannabtimes

<![CDATA[Sean Pavone | Adobe StockImplementing an adult-use cannabis programs doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s officially on the to-do list for the Virginia state legislature. Pending Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature, Virginia would become the first southern state to legalize cannabis, but not until Jan. 1, 2024. The state’s legislative chambers overcame differences to pass a compromise bill on Saturday—Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312—to legalize cannabis possession, personal cultivation and retail sales for adults 21 and older. RELATED: Virginia Is Moving Quickly on the Governor’s Cannabis Legalization Proposal. But What Happens Next?The partisan bill drew three sponsors and two co-sponsors, all Democrats, in the 40-seat Senate, as well as five sponsors and 20 co-sponsors, all Democrats, in the 100-seat House. When Democrats flipped both chambers in 2019, they gained control of both the legislature and governor’s office for the first time in more than two decades. “Equitable legalization of marijuana is an essential step towards racial justice in Virginia,” House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring, primary sponsor of H.B. 2312, said in a prepared statement. “We have created a plan to start this important work, and we will continue to move forward and compromise to get this work done together.” Northam, who supports adult-use legalization, unveiled a proposal in January that would have allowed cannabis sales to start Jan. 1, 2023—a year earlier than the legislature’s timeline. Northam has the option to approve the compromise bill, amend it or veto it. Jenn Michelle Pedini, the development director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said in a press release she hopes to continue working to accelerate specific facets of the push for legalization. “This effort remains a work in progress and our efforts in Virginia are far from over,” said Pedini, who also serves as the…

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