Virginia Lawmakers Approve Governor’s Marijuana Amendment To Speed Up Legalization - Grow Life 420

Virginia Lawmakers Approve Governor’s Marijuana Amendment To Speed Up Legalization

April 07, 2021

#KahliBuds #MMJ #CBD #THC

The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate have both accepted the governor’s amendment to their respective versions of legislation to legalize marijuana in the state, including a revision that will push up the timeline to allow adults to possess and cultivate cannabis for personal use this summer instead of in 2024.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has been strongly advocating for the reform, and lawmakers sent bills to legalize marijuana for adult use to his desk in February. Late last month, the governor formally submitted substitute language to the bills, and on Wednesday, both chambers approved the proposed changes to their own versions, with the House accepting its revised measure, 53-44, and the Senate clearing its legislation by a vote of 21-20, with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) breaking a tie.

In order for the change to officially become law, one of the bodies will next have to approve the opposite chamber’s bill as amended, which is expected to happen later on Wednesday.

After that occurs, the legislation will be enacted without need for any further gubernatorial action since Northam’s revisions will have been approved as submitted. One of the most notable amendments makes it so possession of cannabis by adults 21 and older will be legal on July 1 of this year, rather than on January 1, 2024 as the measure originally stipulated.

Home cultivation would be also allowed starting in July.  Plants would have to be labeled with “identification information, out of sight of public view, and out of range of individuals under the age of 21.”

The governor also asked the legislature to adopt an amendment to expedite automatic expungements for people with prior marijuana convictions, and they accepted that request.

Additionally, his substitute bill calls for immediate funding for a public education campaign “on the health and safety risks of marijuana,” as well as money for law enforcement training to train officers to “recognize and prevent drugged driving.”

Another amendment states that regulators should have the authority to “revoke a company’s business license if they interfere with union organizing efforts, fail to pay prevailing wage as defined by the United States Department of Labor, or classify more than ten percent of employees as independent contractors,” according a a summary from Northam’s office.

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Advocates said they’re pleased with some of the revisions, but say they wanted more from the governor.

While the Senate-passed legalization bill would have enacted legalization on July 1, the House was reluctant and called for a 2024 start date in their proposal—with that chamber winning out in bicameral negotiations to form a final bill to send to the governor’s desk.

But days after the Northam first signaled that he’d be open to allowing certain provisions of the legalization measure to take effect earlier, leaders of House joined that call, with Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) saying that “change is long past due and it cannot wait.”

Separately, the House also approved proposed amendments from the governor to a budget bill that the legislature passed, including a call for an additional $1 million to support training law enforcement to identify impaired driving and another $1 million for “marijuana prevention and education programs and public health campaigns.”

The Senate is set to take up the proposed changes later on Wednesday.

Northam described the amendments he wants included in the budget legislation in a letter to lawmakers last week, noting that the funding for public education would include programs “focused on youth and college-aged populations.”

Advocacy groups, including the ACLU of Virginia and Marijuana Justice, were highly critical of the legislature’s initial move to delay legalization until 2024.

Meanwhile, a Republican congressman recently wrote to Northam, calling marijuana a “gateway drug” and asking the governor to veto the legislation altogether—a proposal that was rejected.

Support for legalizing marijuana is strong in Virginia, according to a poll released in February. It found that more than two-thirds of adults in the Commonwealth (68 percent) favor adult-use legalization, including a slim majority (51 percent) of Republican voters.

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

The post Virginia Lawmakers Approve Governor’s Marijuana Amendment To Speed Up Legalization appeared first on Marijuana Moment.



Kyle Jaeger, KahliBuds, 420GrowLife

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