Virginia lawmakers approved a bill on Saturday that would legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana, but it won’t take effect until 2024.
This historic move made Virginia the first southern state to vote to legalize marijuana, joining 15 other states and the District of Columbia. The legislation is now handed over to the Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports legalization, for his signature.
“Senator Adam Ebbin, the main sponsor of the Senate bill, told the Senate: “It takes a lot of work to get here, but what I want to say is that we are on the path to making fair laws that allow negative Responsible adults use marijuana. Associated Press.
The Speaker of the Virginia House of Representatives, Irene Fern Cohen, praised her colleagues for the passage of the measures in the two chambers.
Filler-Corn tweeted: “The House of Representatives and the Senate have taken an important step in legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana here.” “This legislation will make our criminal justice system fairer and help End the targeting of marijuana possession against black and brown communities.”
Nevertheless, some Democrats like state senator Jennifer McClellan called on Northam to amend the bill, including legalizing marijuana as soon as possible.
“We still have a long way to go to ensure that we address the disproportionate impact of the marijuana ban on black and brown communities,” McClellan said on Twitter. She called on Governor Northam to amend the bill to make simple ownership a legal law this year.
Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Northam, said the governor “looks forward to continuing to improve this legislation.”
Yarmosky told NBC Washington: “There is still a lot of work to be done, but this bill will help reinvest in our communities and reduce inequalities in our criminal justice system.”
According to the passed law, it is legal to own one ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana from January 1, 2024. At the same time, sales will begin, and regulations will come into effect to control the marijuana market in Virginia.
The Senate tried to legalize simple possessions this year to immediately end the punishment of small-scale cannabis users, but House Democrats believe that the legalization of a legal cannabis market can continue to promote the growth of the black market.
Legislators legalized marijuana last year and made simple possession of marijuana a civil fine, punishable by a fine of no more than $25.
Although the bill has undergone major reforms, the American Civil Liberties Union in Virginia stated that the new bill is far from enough to “break the chain of marijuana prohibitions.”
“The Virginia General Assembly failed to legalize marijuana in order to achieve racial justice. Legislators praised the community that has caused decades of harm in the racist drug war, and its legislation failed to reform fairly and delayed judicial proceedings,” Virginia American Citizen The Liberty Alliance said.
Associated Press Contributed.