The governor of Virginia and top lawmakers unveiled a bill on Wednesday that would legalize marijuana in the Commonwealth—and all signs indicate that legislators plan to move quickly to advance it.
The proposal would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants for personal use, two of which could be mature.
It’s being jointly carried by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D) in their chamber. In the House of Delegates, Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D) and Del. Don Scott (D) will carry the companion version.
The legislature decriminalized simple marijuana possession last year, but advocates have kept their eyes set on broader reform.
“We know that the prohibition on cannabis has failed in Virginia, in the Commonwealth and in the country,” Ebbin told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview. “It’s important that we have equity in mind as we legalize marijuana and that’s what we’re up for.”
An initial hearing on the legislation is expected to be held in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services on Friday, after which point it will be put before a new subcommittee that’s being created to specifically focus on cannabis legalization.
The bill’s provisions have been informed by two official state studies on legalization that were recently conducted by a legislative commission and a separate working group comprised of four Virginia cabinet secretaries and other officials, both of which looked at how to effectively implement legalization and submitted recommendations to Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) office late last year.
Many of those recommendations have been incorporated into the new legislation, including provisions to promote social equity in the cannabis market. Notably, it would also apportion almost half of the tax revenue the state collects from marijuana