Virginia lawmakers OK marijuana possession starting July 1

April 08, 2021 at 01:45

(CNN) The Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill legalizing simple possession of marijuana, becoming the latest state to modify its laws around cannabis use and possession that disproportionately jailed Black people for nonviolent offenses.
The new law, which goes into effect July 1, allows anyone in the state 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
The law also "modifies several other criminal penalties related to marijuana, and imposes limits on dissemination of criminal history record information related to certain marijuana offenses," according to a summary posted to the Legislature's website"Virginia led and made history once again today," Virginia Lt. Gov.
The bill had originally passed in late February, but Democratic Gov.
Ralph Northam sent it back to the Legislature with a series of revisions, including a proposal to accelerate the timeline of its enactment to this July instead of 2024.
"I am pleased that the General Assembly accepted my proposal to make this change on July 1, 2021 nearly three years earlier than planned," Northam said in a statement Wednesday.
"Marijuana laws were explicitly designed to target communities of color, and Black Virginians are disproportionately likely to be stopped, charged, and convicted.
Today, Virginia took a critical step to right these wrongs and restore justice to those harmed by decades of over-criminalization."
Still, the measure was met with fierce opposition from state GOP lawmakers Wednesday, including Del.
I understand that opposing immediate legislation and legalization is going to anger many of your constituents.
And I understand that taking the time to do this right might possibly even lead to charges of racism," he said.
Legalization advocates have long touted the righting of past criminal justice wrongs, eliminating illegal market activity and generating additional tax revenue when they've pushed for overhauling state cannabis laws.
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