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Virginia legalizes marijuana after close vote, businesses react

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    RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WAVY) — The Virginia General Assembly gave final approval to a bill to legalize simple possession of marijuana and limited home growth beginning July 1, 2021, three years sooner than initially planned. 

    The accelerated timeline won a majority in the House and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) broke a 20-20 tie in the Senate on Wednesday during a session dedicated to the consideration of Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget and bill amendments.

    The vote makes Virginia the first state in the South to green-light recreational cannabis and the 17th state overall, plus D.C. Virginia follows New York in legalization. Recreational sales still wouldn’t be legal until 2024.

    Lawmakers had initially agreed to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older starting in 2024. That’s still when recreational sales are expected to begin in Virginia pending additional approval in next year’s legislative session. Lawmakers need to vote again on the regulatory framework before any business licenses can be awarded.

    Last week, Northam revived previous efforts to remove the $25 penalty for simple possession starting this summer, citing data suggesting that unequal enforcement against people of color has continued under marijuana decriminalization.  Read more Article source

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