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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.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he will not seek a third term in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.