(The Center Square) – Virginia lawmakers passed compromise legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in both chambers of the legislature.
Under this legislation, the possession, consumption, growth and sale of recreational marijuana would become legal by 2024. The legislation will go to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk, who has advocated for legalizing recreational marijuana.
Lawmakers passed the bill in the Senate and House of Delegates after lawmakers from both sides struck an agreement after differing on approach. Although Senate Democrats sought to legalize possession as early as July, the compromise legislation does not legalize it until after the sale is legal.
However, Senate Democrats won on their effort to include an opt-out clause for localities regarding the sale of marijuana. In the legislation, a local government would be allowed to prohibit the sale of marijuana within its jurisdiction via referendum that would need to be certified by Dec. 31, 2022.
The bill would set up licensing rules for the industry and establish a new agency called the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority, which would be tasked with setting regulations. A person without a license would be allowed to grow a small number of plants on his property, but could not sell them.
Most Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, which narrowly passed both chambers. All Republicans voted against the legislation.