Virginia Accelerated Its Legalization Plans. What’s Next?

Cannabtimes

<![CDATA[This week, cannabis advocates in Virginia notched another victory – after pressure from organizations like the ACLU, NORML, and Marijuana Justice, lawmakers agreed on Gov. Ralph Northam’s amendment to speed up the legalization of cannabis possession to July 1. Under the bill’s original timeline, possession laws wouldn’t have been changed until 2024, which remains Virginia’s target date for starting retail sales.“We did what we do and organized, got Virginians’ voices up, and told the Governor, ‘Hey, before you sign this, we need some amendments to show some urgency,’” said Chelsea Wise, founder of the advocacy group Virginia Marijuana Justice. “It’s a huge win for us to speed this up three years.”Votes on the amendment were split 20-20 along party lines, with Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax casting the deciding vote. Republicans had argued that the bill was incomplete, believing that more time was needed to study the issue and determine how best to enact full legalization. State Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment called the amendments “horribly flawed,” and implied that Northam was only speeding it up “to contribute to the resurrection of his legacy,” a reference to the stir created in 2019 when the governor admitted to appearing in a medical school yearbook photo depicting one man wearing blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.Other changes in the billState Republicans were also unhappy about a provision added that would make it easier for cannabis workers to unionize. The new language gives the state’s incoming Cannabis Control Authority the power to strip licenses from any cannabis business that doesn’t remain neutral while its workers attempt to unionize. But supporters of the updated bill argue that legalizing the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and growing up to four plants at home will benefit the communities hit hardest by…

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