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General Assembly approves making marijuana possession legal in Virginia this July, rather than 2024

Allows for possession of one ounce or less for Virginians 21 and up

Having small amounts of marijuana will very likely soon be legal in Virginia.
Having small amounts of marijuana will very likely soon be legal in Virginia.

Having small amounts of marijuana will very likely soon be legal in Virginia.

Last month, Gov. Ralph Northam submitted an amendment to General Assembly passed marijuana bill that would speed up the timetable from July 1, 2024, to this July.

On Wednesday, the Virginia House of Delegates voted 53-44, with two delegates abstaining, to pass the Northam-amended version. Later in the day, the Senate of Virginia voted 20-20 and it was Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax who broke the tie, voting yay to the bill.

Once Northam signs it, which is all but assured seeing that it was his amendment, the change will go into effect in less than three months.

The governor’s amendments would allow adults 21 and up to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis without the intent to distribute beginning July 1.

They would also allow the home cultivation of up to four plants per household beginning July 1.

Republicans, who overwhelmingly opposed the bill when it initially went through the General Assembly, railed against the latest version.

GOP Del. Chris Head called the bill “a train wreck.”

“The hard-fought compromise that barely made it out of this chamber and over to the Senate has just been discarded. And why is that? It’s because some activists want marijuana legalized and they want it legalized now, consequences be damned,” he said.

It will be years before legal retail sales follow. The bill lays out the complex process of creating a new state agency to oversee the marijuana marketplace, with sales beginning and regulations going into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.


About the Authors:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.