Lawmakers in the state voted to pass some historic marijuana legalization bills on Friday, with a plan in place to open dispensaries beginning in 2024.
After what seems like decades of push from think-tanks and citizens alike, radical marijuana legislation reform in the United States is finally happening. Back in December, the House passed a historic bill to decriminalize the psychoactive plant, and the Democratic party has promised to continue to push for full decriminalization. The most recent to join the list of states to legalize the plant is Virginia, where lawmakers passed legislation Friday (January 5) that would allow adult recreational use, with retail sales starting a few years down the road.
Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly agreed to pass the complicated legislation, which has been a priority for Democrats who control the state's government. If signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia would join 15 other states and neighboring D.C. in legalizing small amounts of cannabis for adult recreational use.
The House of Delegates passed House Bill 2312 on Friday with a 55 to 52 vote. The bill plans to remove penalties for marijuana possession for anyone 21 or older and also modifies several other criminal penalties related to the plant. According to the Virginia House, the bill will provide for an automatic expungement process for those convicted of specific marijuana-related crimes.
The bill will also establish a regulatory plan for marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities as well as establishing the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control Authority. The bill has a delayed effective date of January 1, 2023 with provisions for the Authority's Board of Directors to make regulations for the implementation and expungement process to begin.
While weed is not yet legal in the state, it is a huge step forward in the right direction of marijuana reform.