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.
Following those initial votes, both bodies then passed the opposite chamber’s bill as amended, meaning the legislation is now enacted without need for any further gubernatorial action since Northam’s revisions 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.
In addition to possession, home cultivation will 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.
“We made history as the first state in the South to legalize the simple possession of marijuana,” Northam said in a press release after the votes. “I am pleased that the General Assembly accepted my