VA Gov. Northam proposes moving up start date of legalization of simple possession of marijuana from 2024 to July 2021
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is proposing the Commonwealth rapidly speed up legalizing simple possession of marijuana.
Northam on Wednesday announced amendments to passed legislation that originally envisioned recreational marijuana legalization beginning in 2024 to shift that start date to July of this year.
Northam’s proposition is driven by a study that found Black Virginians were three times more likely to be arrested for simple possession of marijuana. Part of his amendments include allowing residents to possess up to an ounce of cannabis without intent to distribute, allow them grow up to four plants at their home, and keep public safety measures in place like prohibiting smoking marijuana while driving.
There are no amendments proposed to accelerate allowing retail sales of marijuana, which remains on track to start on Jan. 1, 2024. Northam’s summarized list of amendments can be found below:
*Governor Northam has proposed two budget amendments, with one change immediately funding a public awareness campaign on the health and safety risks of marijuana. The second budget amendment seeks to fund training to help law enforcement officers recognize and prevent drugged driving. These amendments also include explicit language directing ongoing support for public health education.
*Northam’s amendments authorize the new Cannabis Control Authority to revoke a company’s business license if they interfere with union organizing efforts, fail to pay prevailing wage as defined by the United States Department of Labor, or classify more than 10 percent of employees as independent contractors.
*Another amendment from Northam will permit adults to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis, without intent to distribute, beginning July 1, 2021. Public safety measures would remain in place that include prohibiting smoking while driving, smoking while driving a school bus, and possession on school grounds.
*Governor Northam’s also seeks to allow for expungement and sealing of criminal records on marijuana to begin as soon as state agencies are able to do so and simplify the criteria for when records can be sealed. The General Assembly passed broader legislation to implement comprehensive expungement reform beginning in 2025.
*The Governor’s amendment change would allow households to grow up to four plants beginning on July 1, 2021. The amendments would require the plants to be labeled with identification information, out of sight from public view, and out of range of individuals under the age of 21.
Photo Courtesy: Image by Herbal Hemp from Pixabay