A special legislative session now to create common sense next steps. Otherwise, Virginians are left waiting until the next General Assembly legislative session in 2022. Pedini points to statewide polling that indicates a majority of Virginians favor marijuana legalization.
“And that’s Virginia,” said Pedini. “What are you guarding against? You are only creating protections for the illicit Virginia operators.”
What can Virginians do?
In the meantime, if Virginians can’t purchase anything legally in Virginia, can they get marijuana plants from outside the state and bring them in?
“That same majority is not demonstrated in the legislature. Politics takes a front seat and policy takes a back seat.”
“It is illegal to transport any cannabis across any state lines.”
Sen. Adam Ebbin, one of the lead sponsors, said people need to understand the law’s limits for now. Possession of up to one ounce (28.3 grams) with no intent to distribute will become legal for adults, 21 and older. Adults will also be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household. But not much else will change.
Adding to the confusion: lawmakers included a “reenactment clause,” which means the General Assembly will have to vote again next year on major portions of the law, mainly to establish a regulatory framework for the legal marijuana marketplace.
Virginia is joining 17 other states with laws allowing adults to possess and consume marijuana. In each one, laws have legalized simple possession before establishing a legal marketplace for buying and selling marijuana, said Jenn Michelle Pedini, the development director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
In the original bill, both possession and sales of marijuana would have been legalized in 2024. But many social justice advocates pushed to immediately end the disparate treatment of people of color under existing marijuana laws.
The General Assembly’s research and watchdog agency found that from 2010-2019, Black Virginians were 3.5 times more likely than white Virginians to be arrested for marijuana possession, and 3.9 times more likely to be convicted, even though both populations used marijuana at similar rates.
It’s a question that should be clarified once the new law officially takes effect and the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority jumps into action on July 1.
However, it will remain illegal to buy or sell seeds with which to grow the plant.
The new law does provide at least one legal loophole for interested parties to get started.
VirginiaNORML has answered some frequently asked questions here.
In April, the Democrat-controlled Virginia General Assembly voted to accept Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed changes to a marijuana legalization bill that will allow limited possession and cultivation of the drug starting in July.