Virginia’s Adult-use Cannabis Bill Could Become Law Without Governor’s Action

Virginia’s Adult-use Cannabis Bill: A Potential Law Without Governor’s Action

Virginia's Adult-use Cannabis Bill Could Become Law Without Governor's Action


Virginia’s adult-use cannabis bill, also known as HB 2312 and SB 1406, is on the verge of becoming law without the need for the governor’s signature. This groundbreaking legislation, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over, has already passed both houses of the Virginia General Assembly. If it becomes law, Virginia would be the first Southern state to legalize marijuana, marking a significant shift in the region’s traditionally conservative stance on drug policy.

The Legislative Process and the Role of the Governor

Under Virginia law, once a bill has passed both houses of the General Assembly, it is sent to the governor for consideration. The governor can either sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. In the case of the adult-use cannabis bill, Governor Ralph Northam has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bill, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. However, even if he chooses not to sign it, the bill will still become law after a certain period of time unless he vetoes it.

Implications of the Adult-use Cannabis Bill

The adult-use cannabis bill would have far-reaching implications for Virginia. It would create a regulated market for the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana, potentially generating significant tax revenue for the state. According to a study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, legalizing marijuana could generate up to $300 million in annual tax revenue and create more than 11,000 jobs by the fifth year of sales.

Moreover, the bill includes provisions aimed at promoting social equity in the cannabis industry. It would establish a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, which would provide loans, grants, and scholarships to people and communities that have been disproportionately affected by drug enforcement policies. It would also give preference to social equity applicants in the licensing process for marijuana businesses.

Public Opinion and the Future of the Bill

Public opinion in Virginia appears to be largely in favor of legalizing marijuana. A poll conducted by Christopher Newport University in February 2021 found that 68% of Virginians support the legalization of recreational marijuana. This widespread public support could put pressure on Governor Northam to sign the bill into law.

However, even if the bill becomes law, it will not take effect immediately. The bill sets a timeline for the establishment of a regulatory framework for the marijuana industry, with sales not expected to begin until January 1, 2024. In the meantime, Virginians will be watching closely to see how the governor responds to this landmark legislation.


In conclusion, Virginia’s adult-use cannabis bill represents a potential sea change in the state’s approach to marijuana policy. Whether or not Governor Northam chooses to sign the bill, it appears likely to become law, marking a significant step towards the legalization of recreational marijuana in the South. However, the ultimate impact of the bill will depend on the successful implementation of its regulatory and social equity provisions.

By C.N.W

Keywords: Virginia, adult-use cannabis bill, marijuana legalization, Governor Ralph Northam, social equity


  • Virginia General Assembly. (2021). HB 2312 Marijuana; legalization of simple possession, etc.
  • Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. (2020). Key Considerations for Marijuana Legalization.
  • Christopher Newport University. (2021). Wason Center for Civic Leadership Virginia Statewide Survey.
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