Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) proposed changes on Wednesday to the legislature-approved cannabis legalization bill that would let adult-use sales begin in July and allow home cultivation. As passed, the law would not allow sales to commence in the state until 2024 and home grows are prohibited.
“Our Commonwealth is committed to legalizing marijuana in an equitable way. Virginia will become the 15th state to legalize marijuana – and these changes will ensure we do it with a focus on public safety, public health, and social justice. I am grateful to the advocates and legislators for their dedicated work on this important issue, and I look forward to this legislation passing next month.” – Northam in a press release
Other changes proposed by the governor include industry labor protections, public health protections, and a process to seal cannabis-related criminal records immediately.
The labor protections would allow the Cannabis Control Authority to revoke an industry license for interfering with unionization efforts, failing to provide a living wage as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, or classifying more than 10% of its workforce as independent contractors.
The governor is also calling for the immediate funding of a public awareness campaign focused on the health and safety risks of cannabis and funds to provide drugged driving training to the state’s law enforcement officers.
Northam is also proposing allowing adults 21-and-older to cultivate up to four plants – out of sight of public view and out of range of minors.
Delegate Lamont Bagby, chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said he was “pleased” with the governor’s proposal.
“We are doing everything possible to repair and redress the harm done to communities of color most impacted by marijuana criminalization,” he said in a statement. “The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus stands in support of the Governor’s amendments because justice must not be delayed.”
Under the governor’s proposed changes, legalized possession would also take effect in July – under the legislature-approved version those provisions, too, wouldn’t have taken effect until 2024.
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