Virginia lawmakers say that cannabis legalization is possible next year, said Virginia Mercury. The House of Delegates, the Senate, and the Governor’s office have all given a relatively positive opinion about legalization n 2021.
The state has been receiving proposals for legalization over the past times. However, this will be the first time the topic will undergo serious hearings. The hearings will come after the General Assembly meets in January.
Virginia Mercury noted that “there’s a decent chance [the proposals] could succeed.” The House of Delegates is optimistic that they could pass, while the Senate thinks that they have “slightly better than 50-50 odds.” Meanwhile, the office of Governor Ralph Northam stated that it is “certainly open to it.”
The need for legalization has been highlighted by many lawmakers in Virginia. According to Del. Mike Mullin, “It’s high time we actually make this change and I think other people have seen that as well.” Mullin is the chair of the House’s criminal law subcommittee. With enough votes in the chamber, he added, “I can tell you I think it will pass.”
The renewed call for ending prohibition in Virginia came after the election in which voters from four states voted in favor of ballot initiatives. With the addition of these four states, the total number of states that legalized recreational marijuana is now 15, along with Washington, DC.
Virginia lawmaker’s positive response to the proposals can lead to legalization. The possibility of this happening has been evident over the years as the state has loosened its stance on cannabis. It allowed cannabidiol to be sold in 2017, which transformed into a medical marijuana program in 2019. It has also passed laws that minimize penalties for possession.
With the state’s favorable response to the plant, the state may legalize it soon. When that happens, VA will be the first in the south to make cannabis legal.
Decriminalization Law Expansion
VA residents have been given a more lenient rule when it comes to possessing cannabis. The decriminalization law, which was passed earlier this year, was recently expanded in a special session.
In an update posted by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on November 12, it was reported that the Virginia General Assembly “approved modest cannabis reform bills that build on the decriminalization bill.”
Governor Northam signed the Senate Bill 5013, which “gives people issued a summons for cannabis possession the option of prepaying the civil penalty instead of having to go to court.”
Senate Bill 5029 prevents law enforcement from using marijuana smells as a pretext to searching and searching properties. This bill will become law after the amendment made by Governor Northam. It will be effective on March 1, 2021.
With regards to legalization, the governor’s chief of staff Clark Mercer said, “he is certainly open to it and we’re going to look at the reports when they come out and continue to dig into the details of how you go about regulating an industry.”