Richmond, VA: A majority of the Virginia legislature voted on Wednesday to approve amendments to Senate Bill 1406 | House Bill 2312, which legalize the personal use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana later this year. Because lawmakers concurred with amendments recommended by the Governor, no further procedural action is required in order for the new laws to take effect on July 1, 2021.
Once enacted, the new law will permit adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household without penalty. Other provisions in the law, which seek to license the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis, do not take effect until January 1, 2024.
Commenting on the final passage, NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, said: “This is an incredible victory for Virginia. Legalization will bring an end to the thousands of low-level marijuana infractions occurring annually in the Commonwealth – ending a discriminatory practice that far too often targets Virginians who are young, poor, and people of color.”
Majority Leader Charniele Herring added: “It is a huge day for equity in the Commonwealth. Virginia is now the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana use, and I am so proud to have been able to carry this monumental legislation. I am ever grateful for the commitment and advocacy from NORML on this topic. Getting Virginia to this day would not have been possible without their hard work and dedication to the cause.”
Senator Adam Ebbin said: “The passage of SB1406 caps off years of struggle to reform our broken and outdated marijuana laws and begins the deliberate steps to repeal the harms of the failed prohibition. I am thankful to NORML, the Governor, and my colleagues for moving this bill from inception to passage over the last four months and I look forward to continuing to partner with them to establish a regulated, equity focused, adult-use marketplace in the coming years.”
Additional amendments added by Gov. Northam allow for the sealing of records related to crimes involving the misdemeanor possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Those records will begin to be sealed starting on July 1, 2021. Separate legislation enacted in 2020 previously sealed records related to misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Governor Northam has signed multiple cannabis-related measures into law this legislative session, including bills permitting medical dispensaries to provide botanical formulations of cannabis, expanding telehealth access for patients, and protecting registered patients who use cannabis in their off-hours from discrimination in the workplace. In total, Governor Northam has approved 41 cannabis-related bills during his term.
For more information, contact Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director.