[Vision2020] Yet . . . . another state
thansen at moscow.com
Sun Feb 28 16:20:48 PST 2021
Courtesy of Politico at:
Virginia joins 15 other states in legalizing marijuana
Virginia is the 16th U.S. state to pass an adult-use marijuana legalization law, though sales would not start until 2024.
The House passed the measure in a 48-43 vote, and the Senate approved it in a 20-19 vote. Not a single Republican voted for the bill in either chamber.
"This, to me, is a justice bill," Del. Charniele Herring, a sponsor of the legalization bill and the Democratic majority leader, said on the floor. "While it has flaws and it is not the perfect bill ... I think this moves us a step in the right direction."
The vote came after a conference committee struck a deal on Saturday to reconcile different versions of the bill that passed in both chambers earlier this month.
The impact: Virginia is the 16th U.S. state to pass an adult-use marijuana legalization law, though sales would not start until 2024. Only two other states — Illinois and Vermont — have passed legislation to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana through the legislature.
The move puts pressure on neighboring states such as Maryland, where an adult-use legalization bill got its first hearing this month. New Jersey also recently enacted legalization, after voters overwhelmingly backed a referendum in November.
What’s next: Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has championed legalization as a racial justice issue.
Under the compromise legislation, marijuana possession would not become legal until January 2024, when regulated sales are scheduled to start. The state would start setting up a marijuana regulatory agency this July.
The background: The state decriminalized marijuana last year during a special session to address criminal justice reform. Virginia’s medical marijuana program is just getting off the ground, and lawmakers passed a bill this session that would expand the program to allow marijuana flower products.
Northam endorsed legalization in November and urged lawmakers to pass his proposal during his state of the state address. The legislation was based on two extensive studies on the issue: a report from his administration and another from the nonpartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee.
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