The vote came after a conference committee struck a deal on Saturday to reconcile various versions of the bill that passed both chambers before this month.The effect: Virginia is your 16th U.S. state to pass an adult-use marijuana legalization law, even though sales would not begin until 2024. Only two other states — Illinois and Vermont — have passed legislation to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana throughout the legislature. What is next: Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has championed legalization as a racial justice issue.Under the compromise legislation, marijuana possession would not become legal until January 2024, when regulated sales are scheduled to start. The state would begin setting up a marijuana regulatory agency this July. The backdrop: The state decriminalized marijuana this past year through a special session to address criminal justice reform. Virginia’s medical marijuana program is just getting off the floor, also lawmakers passed a bill this session that would expand the program to allow marijuana flower products.Northam endorsed legalization in November and urged lawmakers to pass his suggestion through his state of the state speech. The law was based on two extensive research on the issue: a report from his administration and another from the nonpartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee.The bills moved fast through the chambers through a short, 30-day session, which Northam extended using a special session of 16 days. Lawmakers tackled thorny issues such as the way to prevent large corporations from taking over the marijuana market, and the way to take care of automatic expungements of marijuana crimes when the criminal justice system lacks the technology to achieve that.Opponents of marijuana legalization pointed to public health issues such as youth use and impaired driving, in addition to tobacco giant Altria’s lobbying on the issue. Altria purchased a $1.8 billion stake in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group in 2018.Marijuana advocates pointed to the injuries of the enforcement of marijuana crimes in communities of color. The invoice contains robust social equity provisions, such as prioritizing company licenses for individuals deemed to have been disproportionately affected by criminal authorities, which dissuaded some differently supportive Republicans against voting for the bill. Norment pointed to his advocacy of the marijuana decriminalization bill that passed last year.”I just don’t accept this social equity set aside from the issuance of licenses. We don’t do it for alcohol, so we don’t do it for different matters,” he said.The facts: The bill would enable adults over 21 to possess up to 1 oz of marijuana. Home farming could be allowed under the bill — as much as 2 mature and 2 immature plants per household.The bill puts a 21 percent excise tax on marijuana and permits municipalities to bring an additional 3% tax on retailers on top of existing sales taxes. Marijuana tax revenues will be used to fund pre-K schooling, substance use disorder treatment programs along with other public health initiatives. Some of revenues would also go toward a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, which would provide funds such as scholarships and workforce growth for communities disproportionately impacted by law enforcement.Vertical integration would be allowed in limited circumstances to grandfather in medical cannabis producers and industrial hemp chips. Micro-businesses would be allowed to integrate also.

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The vote came after a conference committee struck a deal on Saturday to reconcile unique versions of the bill that passed both chambers before this month.

The effect: Virginia is your 16th U.S. state to pass an adult-use marijuana legalization law, even though sales would not begin until 2024. Only two other states — Illinois and Vermont — have passed legislation to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana throughout the legislature.

The move puts pressure on neighboring countries such as Maryland, where an adult-use legalization bill got its first hearing this season.

What is next: Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has championed legalization as a racial justice issue.

Under the compromise legislation, marijuana possession would not become legal until January 2024, when regulated sales are scheduled to start. The state would begin setting up a marijuana regulatory agency this July.

The backdrop: The state decriminalized marijuana this past year through a special session to address criminal justice reform. Virginia’s medical marijuana program is just getting off the floor, also lawmakers passed a bill this session that would extend the program to allow marijuana flower products.

Northam endorsed legalization in November and urged lawmakers to pass his suggestion through his state of the state speech. The law was based on two extensive research on the issue: a report from his administration and another from the nonpartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee.

The bills moved fast through the chambers through a short, 30-day session, which Northam extended using a special session of 16 days. Lawmakers tackled thorny issues such as the way to prevent large corporations from taking over the marijuana market, and the way to take care of automatic expungements of marijuana crimes when the criminal justice system lacks the technology to achieve that.

Opponents of marijuana legalization pointed to public health issues such as youth use and impaired driving, in addition to tobacco giant Altria’s lobbying on the issue. Altria purchased a $1.8 billion stake in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group in 2018.

Marijuana advocates pointed to the injuries of the enforcement of marijuana crimes in communities of color. The invoice contains robust social equity provisions, such as prioritizing company licenses for individuals deemed to have been disproportionately affected by criminal authorities, which dissuaded some differently supportive Republicans against voting for the bill.

Norment pointed to his advocacy of the marijuana decriminalization bill that passed last year.

“I just don’t accept this social equity set aside from the issuance of licenses. We don’t do it for alcohol, so we don’t do it for different matters,” he said.

The facts: The bill would enable adults over 21 to possess up to 1 oz of marijuana. Home farming could be allowed under the bill — as much as 2 mature and 2 immature plants per household.

The bill puts a 21 percent excise tax on marijuana and permits municipalities to bring an additional 3% tax on retailers on top of existing sales taxes. Marijuana tax revenues will be used to fund pre-K schooling, substance use disorder treatment programs along with other public health initiatives. Some of revenues would also go toward a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, which would provide funds such as scholarships and workforce growth for communities disproportionately impacted by law enforcement.

Vertical integration would be allowed in limited circumstances to grandfather in medical cannabis producers and industrial hemp processors. Micro-businesses would be allowed to integrate also.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/27/virginia-legalizes-marijuana-471840

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