Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana

Virginia lawmakers authorized a invoice on Saturday that may legalize the sale and leisure use of marijuana — however no longer till 2024.

The ancient transfer makes Virginia the primary Southern state to vote to legalize marijuana, becoming a member of 15 different states and the District of Columbia. The law now is going to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who helps legalization, for his signature.

“It is been numerous paintings to get right here, however I’d say that we are at the trail to an equitable regulation permitting accountable adults to make use of hashish,” State Sen. Adam Ebbin, the manager sponsor of the Senate invoice, informed the Related Press.

Virginia Space Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn applauded her colleagues in each chambers for passing the measure.

“The Space and Senate took a powerful step in legalizing the sale and ownership of Marijuana right here within the Commonwealth,” mentioned Filler-Corn on Twitter. “This law will make our prison justice device fairer and lend a hand finish the concentrated on of black and brown communities over the ownership of hashish.”

Nonetheless, some Democrats like state Sen. Jennifer McClellan referred to as on Northam to amend the invoice, together with legalizing marijuana quicker.

“We nonetheless have an extended option to move to verify we deal with the disproportionate have an effect on marijuana prohibition has had on Black and brown communities,” McClellan tweeted. She referred to as on Gov. Northam to amend the invoice in order that easy ownership would transform felony this 12 months.

Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, mentioned the governor “seems ahead to proceeding to toughen this law.”

“There may be nonetheless numerous paintings forward, however this invoice will lend a hand to reinvest in our communities and scale back inequities in our prison justice device,” Yarmosky informed NBC Washington.

Below the law as handed, ownership of as much as an oz (28.three grams) of marijuana will transform felony starting Jan. 1, 2024. On the similar time, gross sales will start and rules will move into impact to regulate the marijuana market in Virginia.

The Senate had sought to legalize easy ownership this 12 months to in an instant finish punishments for other people with small quantities of marijuana, however Space Democrats argued that legalization with out a felony marketplace for marijuana may proceed to advertise the expansion of the black marketplace.

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

In spite of the invoice’s primary reforms, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia mentioned the brand new law does no longer move some distance sufficient to “smash the chains of marijuana prohibition.”

“The Virginia Normal Meeting didn’t legalize marijuana for racial justice. Lawmakers paid lip provider to the communities that experience suffered many years of injury brought about by means of the racist Warfare on Medication with law that falls in need of equitable reform and delays justice,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia mentioned.

The Related Press contributed.

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