So, I'm a little late to the party with this controversial topic, but I think it's an important one and I'd like to talk about it. I'm not sure what Virginia local doesn't know about the monumental decision for Virginia to become the sixteenth state in the U.S. and the first southern state to make marijuana legal.
The bill passed in a democrat lead 48-43 vote (news sources say not one Republican voted for the move). It was then Senate approved in a 20-19. The bill allows for adults aged 21 and up to possess an ounce or less of marijuana. The law goes into effect on Jul. 1, though purchasing it through a dispensary will not be available until 2024. Initially, the plan was Virginia would not legalize marijuana until 2024 also.
Gov. Ralph Northam was the one to suggest July 1 as the legalization date instead, saying it would be a waste to punish people who possess a small amount of a drug that will soon be legal anyway.
Eileen Filler-Corn, the speaker for the Democratic House of Delegates, said in a heartfelt statement,
"Today, with the Governor's amendments, we will have made tremendous progress in ending the targeting of Black and brown Virginians through selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition by this summer."
What will and won't be allowed?
It is essential to understand what the new law will and won't allow, though. Like Senator Scott Surovell put it, "This is not going to generate some ganja fest at Jiffy Lube pavilion out in the parking lot because that is smoking in public. Because just like you can't drink in public, you can't smoke in public under this."
Considering dispensaries will not be allowed to sell weed legally, people can grow their own (up to four plants) and gift the marijuana to someone. However, there are provisions to stop the once-popular practice in Washington, D.C., where a business charges a high price for a product and earning the marijuana as a "gift". Even though I think that's genius.
People under the legal age will be slapped with a $25 fine and would need to start a substance abuse treatment program. You also can't gift or consume marijuana in public. A first-time offense can earn you a $25 fine. For a second, you would need to join a program, and a third time is a Class 4 misdemeanor. Possessing marijuana in schools (K-12) will also be classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
I think this decision is a massive step in the right direction. How do you feel about it all?