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Virginia Legislature Legalizes Recreational Cannabis, But Sales Won’t Start Until 2024

Mar 01, 2021

Virginia Legislature Legalizes Recreational Cannabis, But Sales Won’t Start Until 2024

Leo Bear-McGuinness
Science Writer & Editor
@LeoMcBear

Virginia has become the 16th US state to approve an adult-use, recreational cannabis legalization bill.

The state’s legislature approved the legalization bill on Saturday, February 27, by a tally of 48-43 in the House and 20-19 in the Senate.

The legislation is expected to be signed by state Governor Ralph Northam, a vocal advocate for drug reform, and sales are expected to start in 2024.


Legal in Virginia

Governor Northam endorsed cannabis legalization last May following Virginia’s decriminalization of cannabis possession.

“As we decriminalize simple possession of marijuana and seal the records of prior convictions, I am proposing a study to assess the impact of fully legalizing marijuana in the Commonwealth [of Virginia],” Northam wrote on Twitter on April 12.

The results of that study were then released on November 30. Any cannabis legalization bills, the report said, should focus on undoing the harms of racial discrimination by “including initiatives such as social equity license programs, access to capital, community reinvestment, and sealing or expunging records of past marijuana-related convictions.”

With that focus in mind, the bill progressed through the state legislature before being approved last Saturday.

“This legislation will make our criminal justice system fairer and help end the targeting of black and brown communities over the possession of cannabis,” Eileen Filler-Corn, the 56th Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, wrote on Twitter.

“It will also begin the creation of the infrastructure needed for the sale of cannabis in the Commonwealth; raising revenue for essential services and undercutting illegal sale,” she added.

The legalization bill would allow adults over 21 to possess up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of cannabis from January 1, 2024. Home cultivation of up to four plants per household would also be allowed.

For businesses, a 21 percent cannabis excise tax would be put in place and municipalities would be allowed to add an additional 3 percent tax on retailers on top of existing sales taxes.

 

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