Lawmakers in Virginia over the weekend accepted a invoice to legalize leisure marijuana use, a historic breakthrough for hashish advocates within the southern United States.
A so-called “compromise invoice” was handed within the Virginia legislature on Saturday—successful approval by slender margins in every chamber. According to Politico, the laws handed by a 48-43 vote within the Virginia Home, and 20-19 within the Senate.
The invoice now heads to the desk of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, who had stated he needed marijuana legalization accepted this 12 months. With the profitable approval within the legislature over the weekend, Virginia turns into the primary southern state to legalize marijuana.
Below the laws that was handed, leisure marijuana gross sales wouldn’t start within the commonwealth till 2024. In keeping with Politico, the invoice “units a 21 p.c excise tax on marijuana and permits municipalities so as to add a further 3 p.c tax on retailers on high of present gross sales taxes,” with tax revenues getting used to “fund pre-Okay training, substance use dysfunction remedy applications and different public well being initiatives” and towards “a Hashish Fairness Reinvestment Fund, which would offer sources equivalent to scholarships and workforce growth for communities disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement.”
The laws would additionally “ enable adults over 21 to own as much as 1 ounce of marijuana,” Politico reported, with as much as 4 vegetation per family allowed for dwelling cultivation.
The Governor’s Stance On Legalization
Northam called on Virginia legislators to deliver legalization to the commonwealth within the annual “State of the State” tackle in January, but he announced his help for leisure marijuana in November of final 12 months.
“It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia,” Northam stated on the time. “Our Commonwealth has a possibility to be the primary state within the South to take this step, and we are going to lead with a deal with fairness, public well being, and public security. I sit up for working with the Common Meeting to get this proper.”
Final April, Northam signed a bill that decriminalized marijuana, establishing a $25 civil penalty for easy possession and likewise sealing the information of convictions and prohibiting employers from inquiring about previous convictions.
“Each Virginian deserves entry to a good and equitable felony justice system,” stated Northam in a press release after signing the laws into regulation. “These payments fight mass incarceration, improve help for returning residents, and be sure that those that have paid their debt to society have a significant second likelihood. I thank the Common Meeting for working with us to construct a extra simply and inclusive Commonwealth.”
Regardless of his clear help for legalization, there’s some ambiguity over what precisely Northam will do with the invoice that simply handed this weekend. The Associated Press reported that “a number of Democrats stated they hoped Northam would ship the laws again to them with amendments, together with dashing up the date for legalization.”
“If now we have already made the choice that straightforward possession must be repealed, we may have completed that at the moment and ended the disproportionate fines on communities of shade,” stated state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, as quoted by the Related Press. “Let’s be completely clear — this invoice shouldn’t be legalization, and there are a whole lot of steps between right here and legalization.”