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Posted on: March 01, 2021
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Virginia Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Marijuana in 2024

Virginia Lawmakers 

Richmond, Virginia (AP) A plan that will legalise marijuana for adult recreational use until 2024, when retail sales of the substance will also start, received final approval from Virginia lawmakers on Saturday.

Virginia becomes the first Southern state to approve marijuana legalisation, joining 15 other states and the District of Columbia, after a compromise bill passes both the House and Senate. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and supporter of legalisation, will now sign the law.

Democrats portrayed legalisation as a critical step to stop the unfair treatment of people of colour under current marijuana prohibitions, making the bill one of their top priorities. A compromise version of the enormous bill did not become public until late Saturday afternoon, however, since negotiations between Democrats in the House and Senate became acrimonious recently.

Sen. Adam Ebbin, the primary proponent of the Senate bill, said, "It's been a lot of work to get here, but I would say that we're on the way to an equitable law permitting responsible people to consume cannabis."

Virginia Lawmakers Pass Marijuana Legalization Bills

A number of Democrats expressed the expectation that Northam would alter the bill and resend it with a faster legalisation date.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan stated, "If we have already decided that simple possession should be repealed, we could have done that today and end the disproportionate penalty on communities of colour."

There are several steps between this measure and legalisation, she insisted, so let's be quite clear about that.

Alena Yarmosky, the governor's spokeswoman, stated that the governor "looks forward to continuing to enhance this law."

The law, she added, "would assist to reinvest in our communities and decrease injustices in our criminal justice system, but there is still much work to be done."

According to the law, possession of up to an ounce (28.3 grammes) of marijuana will be permitted starting on January 1, 2024, at the same time as sales will start and rules to regulate Virginia's marijuana market would take effect.

The legislation will contain a reenactment clause that will call for a second vote by the General Assembly the following year, but only on the legal framework and punishments for a number of offences, such as marijuana use by minors and consumption in public. This clause was insisted upon by Senate Democrats. The legalising issue won't require a second vote.

To immediately stop punishments for anyone in possession of tiny amounts of marijuana, the Senate had wanted to legalise simple possession this year. However, House Democrats contended that legalisation without a regulated market for marijuana could encourage the rise of the illicit market.

The legislation will contain a reenactment clause that will call for a second vote by the General Assembly the following year, but only on the legal framework and punishments for a number of offences, such as marijuana use by minors and consumption in public. This clause was insisted upon by Senate Democrats. The legalising issue won't require a second vote.

To immediately stop punishments for anyone in possession of tiny amounts of marijuana, the Senate had wanted to legalise simple possession this year. However, House Democrats contended that legalisation without a regulated market for marijuana could encourage the rise of the illicit market.

According to a recent analysis by the legislature's research and oversight body, from 2010 to 2019, Black people were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than White people. The survey also discovered that the rate of conviction for Black persons was 3.9 times greater than for White people.

A Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund is to receive 30% of marijuana tax revenue, after programme expenditures, according to the proposed legislation. With monies going toward scholarships, workforce development and job placement services, and low- or no-interest loans for eligible cannabis enterprises, the money would be utilised to assist communities that have traditionally been overpoliced for marijuana-related offences.

People from Virginia who have been convicted of a marijuana-related offence, have relatives who have been convicted, or reside in economically depressed areas may be eligible to apply as social equity applicants and receive preference for licences to enter the marijuana industry as growers, wholesalers, processors, and retailers.

The majority of marijuana sales' tax money would be used to pay for at-risk children's pre-K programmes.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and other racial justice advocacy organisations harshly criticised the law.

The Virginia General Assembly's attempt to legalise marijuana for racial justice was unsuccessful today. The discriminatory War on Drugs has harmed communities for decades, but lawmakers just gave lip service to them by passing laws that delay justice and fall short of equitable reform, according to a tweet from the ACLU.

Completely anti-legalization groups have expressed fear that it would lead to a rise in drug-impaired driving collisions and young marijuana use.

Republican senators opposed the proposal in a Saturday night speech, arguing that such a crucial matter required a slower pace.

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