On Saturday, Virginia (a state that has banned offshore drilling and exploration…which could be used to boost high-paying jobs and bring the state enormous amounts of tax revenue) voted to legalize recreational marijuana use, making Virginia the first southern state to do so.
It goes without saying that no Republican in either chamber voted for the bill.
But stoners will need to chill out for a little while. The bill seeks full legalization to occur in 2024, citing the need to establish frameworks for how distribution and sales would occur within the state. These types of frameworks would be overseen by a new regulatory body called “Virginia Cannabis Control Authority.”
Regulations will prohibit possession of marijuana over one ounce. Also, only those over 21 can have/consume the mind-altering substance.
Justification for the bill’s passage has been focused upon racial justice, noting how black communities have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana incarcerations.
House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said about the bill, “This moves us in a … direction to strike down and to address those institutional barriers, and over-policing, over-arrests, over-convictions of African Americans who do not use marijuana at a higher rate than our white counterparts, but we seem to get the brunt of criminal convictions.”
However, since there is a 3-year window until cannabis is legalized, it is unclear how convictions that occur within that timeframe will be handled.
Additionally, Virginia plans to have a 30% tax on marijuana sales, which will be directed toward an “Equity Reinvestment Fund.” According to the AP, this fund will “help communities that have been historically over-policed for marijuana crimes, with funds going toward scholarships, workforce development and job placement services, and low-or no-interest loans for qualified cannabis businesses.”