State lawmakers in Virginia have approved a bill that will legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Under this law, it will be legal for residents of the state to possess an ounce or less of marijuana. Also, this will offer licensing preferences to people and groups who’ve been affected by the war on drugs and make it easier for workers in the cannabis industry to unionize. Initially, the law was set to go into effect in July 2024. Now, it will go into effect in July 2021.
“Today, with the Governor’s amendments, we will have made tremendous progress in ending the targeting of Black and brown Virginians through selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition by this summer,” House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn stated.
While Republican lawmakers pushed back against certain provisions in the bill, it was largely praised by experts, advocates and residents around the state. Jenn Michelle Pedini of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws called the law an “incredible victory.”
“In the interest of public and consumer safety, Virginians 21 and older should be able to purchase retail cannabis products at the already operational dispensaries in 2021, not in 2024,” she told NPR.
“Such a delay will only exacerbate the divide for equity applicants and embolden illicit activity.”
The law will officially go into effect on July 1, 2021.