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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.

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

No motive yet determined in Indianapolis FedEx shooting

Crime scene investigators walk through the FedEx parking lot in Indianapolis the day after a mass shooting left nine dead, including the gunman, who took his own life. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images.

Police have not yet uncovered the motive for Thursday's mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility, where a gunman left at least eight people dead and multiple others wounded.

The latest: Police Chief Randal Taylor said Friday that the warehouse employed a "significant" number of Sikhs, AP reports, and the Sikh Coalition confirmed that members of its community were among those who were injured and killed.

The legacy of Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff, architect of the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, died on Wednesday in federal prison, 11 years into his 150-year sentence.

Axios Re:Cap digs into Madoff’s crimes, what they revealed about America's financial system and what changed after the scheme came crashing down with Diana B. Henriques, author of the The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Russia to expel 10 U.S diplomats, ban top Biden officials in response to sanctions

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty Images

Russia will expel 10 U.S. diplomats and add eight current and former U.S. officials to its no-entry list in retaliation for sanctions that the Biden administration leveled at Moscow on Friday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

Why it matters: The measures come after the U.S. said it would expel 10 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover, as part of a broad package of sanctions retaliating against the SolarWinds hack of federal agencies and Russia's interference in the 2020 election.