RICHMOND, VA — Virginia lawmakers gave closing approval Saturday to a invoice that can legalize hashish for grownup use, however not till 2024, when retail gross sales of the drug would start.

With a compromise invoice having cleared the state Home and Senate, Virginia turns into the primary Southern state to vote to legalize marijuana, becoming a member of 15 different states and the District of Columbia. The laws now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who helps legalization.


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The invoice was a high precedence for Democrats, who framed legalization as a vital step to finish the disparate treatment of individuals of shade underneath present marijuana legal guidelines. 

However talks between Democrats within the Home and Senate grew tense in current days as the 2 chambers wrangled over vital variations between their variations of the laws. 

Negotiations continued into Saturday when, late within the afternoon, particulars of a compromise settlement have been made publicly out there.

Underneath the laws that handed, possession of as much as an oz. (28.3 grams) of marijuana will change into authorized starting Jan. 1, 2024, on the similar time gross sales will start and laws will go into impact to manage the marijuana market in Virginia.

Underneath a provision Senate Democrats insisted on, the laws will embrace a reenactment clause that can require a second vote from the Normal Meeting, however solely on the regulatory framework and prison penalties for a number of offenses, together with underage use and public consumption of marijuana. A second vote won’t be required on legalization.


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The Senate had sought to legalize easy possession this 12 months to instantly finish punishments for folks with small quantities of marijuana, however Home Democrats argued that legalization and not using a authorized marketplace for marijuana may promote the expansion of the black market.

Lawmakers final 12 months decriminalized marijuana, making easy possession a civil penalty that may be punished by a positive of not more than $25.

Why the three-year delay?

The three-year delay in legalizing easy possession drew sharp criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Marijuana Justice, and different racial justice advocacy teams.

“This invoice doesn’t advance the reason for equal justice or racial justice in Virginia. It’s the product of a closed-door legislative course of that has prioritized the pursuits of leisure marijuana people who smoke over folks and communities of shade,” the teams mentioned in a press release earlier than the vote.

However Sen. Adam Ebbin, the chief sponsor of the Senate invoice, mentioned the compromise settlement is an efficient begin on legalization.

“It’s been a variety of work to get right here, however I’d say that we’re on the trail to an equitable legislation permitting accountable adults to make use of hashish” he mentioned through the debate.

Teams that opposed legalization totally have mentioned they’re involved that it may end in a rise in drug-impaired driving crashes and using marijuana amongst youth.