RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Lawmakers will vote Saturday on whether to legalize marijuana in Virginia by 2024, but advocacy groups that support legalization believe a compromise fails to address social and racial justice issues that initially drove the effort and have called on legislators to reject the invoice. Under the arrangement reached by negotiators in the Virginia Senate and House, simple ownership would still come with a $25 civil penalty for a first crime until retail sales begin on Jan. 1, 2024, and another vote at the General Assembly next year will decide a lot of other components. Even with of the help from Democrats, the Virginia House voted to approve the compromise and legalize marijuana in 2024. A re-enactment clause at the Senate’s bill, one of the main sticking points in the discussions, will require that the state legislature to vote next year on specifics surrounding the regulatory arrangement for legal sales and staying criminal justice components of the bill. Groups that back legalization shared issues over the penalty for simple possession staying in position and an open container clause in the legislation, asserting that racial disparities in police, even with decriminalization, still exist. PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Virginia lawmakers face deadline to resolve differences in marijuana legalization bill “This bill doesn’t advance the cause of equal justice or racial justice in Virginia. It’s the product of a closed-door legislative procedure that has prioritized the interests of recreational marijuana smokers over communities and people of color,” the groups said in a joint statement. “The bill is a failure and we urge lawmakers to vote against it”State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), a gubernatorial contender, echoed that sentiment on the Senate floor on Saturday, questioning the chamber’s capacity to fully comprehend and vote on a 264-page compromise report. The question forced the bill’s patron and one of the conferees in the conference committee, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), to request the debate to proceed by momentarily. The compromise also requires a possible misdemeanor charge, with a $250 fine, for anyone found guilty of driving with a partially open container of marijuana or marijuana merchandise along with”the appearance, conduct, address, or other physical trait,” except for odor, of marijuana consumption. Another difference, a non-binding referendum in which Virginians would share whether they support legalization, did not make the final agreement, 1 person familiar with the agreement informed 8News. If the new General Assembly, that is predicted to be different with all 100 House seats up for grabs, rejects the measure, easy possession would still be legal but retail sales would not. Legalization was presented as a significant agenda item for Northam and Virginia Democrats before this year’s session. The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, both under Democratic control, each passed legislation on Feb. 5 to legalize use and ownership for those 21 decades and older. Can localities opt from legal marijuana sales? Virginia lawmakers debating part of public opinion While the bills had similarities, such as an automatic expungement procedure for misdemeanor convictions and establishing that the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority by July to oversee the legal sector, legislators were anticipating that a conference committee discussion would be required to work out the final details. With the special session ending Monday, lawmakers had until Saturday to finish their work on the laws. Lawmakers are expected to pass on the conference committee report and send the invoice to Northam, who has been actively engaged and”personally working closely” with lawmakers to get the bill passed this year, according to his spokesperson. “Passing legislation this year helps to ensure that the new Cannabis Control Authority and the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board can get up and running in 2021. The CCA will be responsible for writing regulations immediately and issuing licenses in the future decades,” Alena Yarmosky, Northam’s spokeswoman, told 8News in an email Saturday. “The Reinvestment Board will be composed of community leaders and will make sure that the nation keeps social equity front and centre in future decades. Both of these organizations will offer essential leadership and expertise in 2021 and the future, as legislators and many others continue to enhance details of exactly what legalization will look like”The Virginia NAACP denounced the agreement, saying it would only exacerbate criminal justice problems that prompted the calls for legalization before the legislative session. “Current proposals by the General Assembly include two offenses and would lead to a spike in police encounters with Black Virginians,” Robert N. Barnette Jr., the president of the Virginia NAACP, said in a statement. “We will not stand by while Jim Crow’s sister Jane attempts to creep her way into Virginia law”The compromise also includes an opt-out clause for localities to choose whether or not to let retail sales via a referendum that must be licensed by Dec. 31, 2022. Stay with 8News for upgrades. 

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Lawmakers will vote Saturday on whether to legalize marijuana in Virginia by 2024, but advocacy groups that support legalization believe a compromise fails to address social and racial justice issues that initially drove the effort and have called on legislators to reject the invoice.

Under the arrangement reached by negotiators in the Virginia Senate and House, easy possession would still arrive with a $25 civil penalty for a first crime until retail sales begin on Jan. 1, 2024, and another vote at the General Assembly next year will determine a lot of other components.

Even with of the help from Democrats, the Virginia House voted to approve the compromise and legalize marijuana in 2024.

A re-enactment clause at the Senate’s bill, one of the main sticking points in the discussions, will require that the state legislature to vote next year on specifics surrounding the regulatory arrangement for lawful sales and staying criminal justice components of the invoice. 

Groups that back legalization shared issues over the penalty for simple possession staying in position and an open container clause in the legislation, asserting that racial disparities in authorities, even with decriminalization, still exist.

“This bill doesn’t advance the cause of equal justice or racial justice in Virginia. It’s the product of a closed-door legislative procedure that has prioritized the interests of recreational marijuana smokers over communities and people of color,” the groups said in a joint statement. “The bill is a failure and we urge lawmakers to vote against it”

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), a gubernatorial contender, echoed that sentiment on the Senate floor on Saturday, questioning the chamber’s capacity to fully comprehend and vote on a 264-page compromise report. The question forced the bill’s patron and one of the conferees in the conference committee, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), to request the debate to go by liberally.

The compromise also requires a possible misdemeanor charge, with a $250 fine, for anyone found guilty of driving with a partially open container of marijuana or marijuana merchandise along with”the appearance, conduct, address, or other physical trait,” except for odor, of marijuana consumption.

Another difference, a non-binding referendum in which Virginians would share whether they support legalization, did not make the final agreement, 1 person familiar with the agreement informed 8News.

If the new General Assembly, that is predicted to be different with all 100 House seats up for grabs, rejects the measure, easy possession would still be legal but retail sales would not. 

Legalization was presented as a significant agenda item for Northam and Virginia Democrats before this year’s session. The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, both under Democratic control, each passed legislation on Feb. 5 to legalize use and ownership for those 21 decades and older.

While the bills had similarities, such as an automatic expungement procedure for misdemeanor convictions and establishing that the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority by July to oversee the legal sector, legislators were anticipating that a conference committee discussion would be required to work out the final details. 

With the special session ending Monday, lawmakers had until Saturday to finish their work on the laws. Lawmakers are expected to pass on the conference committee report and send the invoice to Northam, who has been actively engaged and”personally working closely” with lawmakers to get the bill passed this year, according to his spokesperson.

“Passing legislation this year helps to ensure that the new Cannabis Control Authority and the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board can get up and running in 2021. The CCA will be responsible for writing regulations immediately and issuing licenses in the future decades,” Alena Yarmosky, Northam’s spokeswoman, told 8News in an email Saturday. “The Reinvestment Board will be composed of community leaders and will make sure that the nation keeps social equity front and centre in future decades. Both of these organizations will offer essential leadership and expertise in 2021 and the future, as legislators and many others continue to enhance details of exactly what legalization will look like”

The Virginia NAACP denounced the agreement, saying it would only exacerbate criminal justice problems that prompted the calls for legalization before the legislative session.

“We will not stand by while Jim Crow’s sister Jane attempts to creep her way into Virginia law”

The compromise also includes an opt-out clause for localities to choose whether or not to let retail sales via a referendum that must be licensed by Dec. 31, 2022.

Stay with 8News for upgrades. 

Source: https://www.wric.com/news/politics/capitol-connection/lawmakers-reach-agreement-on-marijuana-legalization-bill/

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