Apr 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Virginia lawmakers approve marijuana legalization

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia lawmakers have approved Gov. Ralph Northam's request to legalize the possession and growth of small amounts of recreational marijuana starting July 1, up from the 2024 timeline that had previously been agreed to.

Why it matters: The move will make Virginia the first southern state, and the 16th in the nation, to legalize recreational marijuana.

Details: Northam proposed the amendment at the end of March along with others aimed at improving public safety and worker protections in connection to marijuana use.

  • Northam's office said that a report commissioned by the state found that Black people in Virginia were disproportionately policed and convicted for marijuana use, which is why he wanted to push for immediate legalization.

What they're saying: "Today, with the Governor's amendments, we will have made tremendous progress in ending the targeting of Black and brown Virginians through selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition by this summer," Democratic House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said in a statement.

What to watch: "As amended, lawmakers need to vote again on the regulatory framework before any business licenses can be awarded," ABC's local affiliate reported.

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