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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

  • Lawmakers in the commonwealth last week approved legislation to make Virginia the first in the South to abolish the death penalty. Northam has also enacted laws surrounding gun control, abortion and anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

Details: The bill would establish a new independent agency to regulate the new market in the three-year period before legalization.

  • It would legalize possession of an ounce of marijuana or less by people 21 or older starting in 2024. Retail sales would also be allowed then.
  • Lawmakers chose to punt on a resolution for penalties for underage possession and unlicensed sales.
  • The bill will now head to Northam's desk. The governor has championed legislation as a racial justice issue.

The measure passed the House of Delegates in a 48-43 vote, and the Senate voted for it 20-19. The bill got no Republican support. Seven Democrats in the House and one in the Senate voted against it.

  • House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D) said the law will "strike down and address institutional barriers, over policing, over arrests and over convictions of African Americans," per Virginia Mercury.
  • The Virginia ACLU urged lawmakers to oppose the bill, saying it did not make sense to keep the drug illegal for three years.

Go deeper

OPM: Marijuana use not automatic disqualifier for federal employment

Someone smoking a marijuana cigarette in New York in April 2020. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Federal agencies should not automatically disqualify job applicants for using or possessing marijuana, the Office of Personnel Management said in a memo Friday.

Driving the news: Since more states are legalizing marijuana, OPM said emphasizing marijuana use as a disqualifying factor during the application process is making it increasingly difficult for federal agencies to find or maintain talented workers.

29 mins ago - World

In photos: The funeral of Prince Philip puts military and royal tradition on display

Prince Philip’s coffin, covered with His Royal Highness’s Personal Standard is carried to the purpose built Land Rover during the Duke of Edinburghe's funeral. Photo: Adrian Dennis/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who died April 9 at age 99, will be laid to rest on Saturday following a funeral service at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The big picture: "His send-off will be highly unusual — in part because coronavirus restrictions meant the ceremony had to be scaled back, but also because it comes just after a very public airing of a family rift," The New York Times writes.

Army officer lawsuit shines light on police treatment of Afro-Latinos

A screenshot from bodycam footage showing U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario during the traffic stop in December, when he was pepper-sprayed.

Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was threatened and pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop that is now under investigation by the Virginia attorney general's office for being “dangerous, unnecessary, unacceptable and avoidable.”

Why it matters: Nazario’s resulting lawsuit against the Windsor, Virginia, police department has brought attention to police treatment of Afro-Latinos, and the lack of data about it despite a growing reckoning over abuses from law enforcement.