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Virginia is postponing cannabis legalization to July 1, 2021

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RICHMOND, VA – The Democrat-controlled Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday voted to pass Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed amendments to a law legalizing marijuana that would allow limited ownership and cultivation of the plant from July this year.

It will be legal to own an ounce and grow four plants on July 1st. But retail stores won’t open until 2024. Time to Grow Your Own?

Previously, the legislature had voted for the legalization of cannabis – but only in 2024.

Northam sent the bill back to lawmakers, which had changed radically from the version they sent him in February. Legislative amendments agreed on Wednesday would speed up the legalization timetable by about three years, a move welcomed by proponents of racial justice.

“It is time our state legalized marijuana. The changes ensure that while we do the complicated work of building a commercial marketplace, we are not delaying immediate reforms that will make our Commonwealth more equitable for all Virginians, ”said Charniele Herring, chairman of the house majority, and urged her colleagues to vote for the governor’s changes.

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Opponents predict a “train accident”

Northam’s amendments cleared House 53-44 with two abstentions. The Senate was later bogged down between 20 and 20, and Democratic Governor Justin Fairfax broke the tie and voted to approve it.

Republicans who overwhelmingly opposed the law the first time it passed the General Assembly railed against the latest version.

GOP Del. Chris Head called the bill “a train wreck”.

“The hard-fought compromise that barely made it from this chamber to the Senate has just been thrown out. And why is that It’s because some activists want marijuana to be legalized, and they want it to be legalized now. The consequences are damned, ”he said.

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The governor’s changes would allow adults 21 and older to legally own up to 28.3 grams of cannabis with no intention of distributing it from July 1. They would also allow up to four plants to be grown per household from July 1st.

It will be years before legal retail sales follow. The bill outlines the complex process of creating a new government agency to oversee the marijuana market. The sale begins and the regulations come into effect on January 1, 2024.

Do you want it before 2024? Must grow your own

During the legislature, the Senate attempted to legalize simple ownership from July, but House Democrats initially argued that without a legal market for marijuana, legalization could encourage black market growth. The bill passed in July would not have legalized simple ownership until 2024.

Herring said Wednesday that home growth would give Virgins the opportunity to legally purchase cannabis while the retail market is set up.

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Beth Edmonds