Marijuana is now legal in Virginia. Advocates are already pushing for changes to the law.

Katie R. Ochoa
Workers at gLeaf Professional medical tend to vegetation in a mature area at the Richmond clinical cannabis dispensary. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

As of today, marijuana is lawful for grown ups 21 and more mature to possess, take in and expand in Virginia. But unless of course a medical professional has signed off on a prescription, there is no authorized way to obtain it.

Lawmakers have established a 2024 target to commence retail profits to leisure consumers, a runway the legislation’s authors say is necessary to build the Virginia Hashish Command Authority, which will regulate the new market.

But some legalization advocates are hoping the Typical Assembly will agree to pace up that time body.

“Our priority in the 2022 legislative session is to expedite retail access for adult shoppers, the two as a result of already operational health-related dispensaries and by relocating up the day VCCA can start off issuing new licenses,” claimed Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, the condition chapter of the Nationwide Firm to Reform Marijuana Guidelines.

What Virginia’s cannabis legalization invoice essentially says

The health care dispensaries had lobbied to be authorized to commence offering to leisure customers commencing this 12 months, but lawmakers resisted, stressing it would give the organizations an unfair head start out in a sector in which they hope to persuade minority-owned and little corporations.

Other advocates say the Normal Assembly’s instant target ought to be on the prison justice facet of the regulation. Democratic lawmakers who championed the laws framed it generally as a issue of racial justice in gentle of studies displaying Black people today ended up three moments additional possible to be charged with possession than White persons regardless of surveys displaying the two groups use the drug at approximately the similar rate.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, who started Cannabis Justice, which led a coalition of legal justice reform teams that worked on the law, applauded the decision to speed legalization. But she mentioned having the retail market off the floor is secondary to other do the job the Common Assembly has left undone.

Amongst other points, she pointed to lawmakers’ choice not to consist of a resentencing provision for people now incarcerated on marijuana costs, a group that most likely incorporates hundreds of people today. Though lawmakers handed expungement provisions for past charges, they said they ran out of time to involve language addressing resentencing.

“Pushing up professional revenue purely for accessibility to weed is not the priority when this generally has been and has to be a racial justice difficulty,” Higgs Clever said. “The July 1 legislation is rooted in getting rid of racist enforcement of uncomplicated possession, not to increase access. Because it is constantly been accessible, but only specified folks have been criminalized for it.”

She explained lawmakers really should also prioritize removing prison penalties for youth caught with the drug as nicely as open up container legal guidelines that make it illegal to have the drug in the passenger spot of a automobile even if it is not becoming employed — two guidelines she predicted would proceed to be disproportionately enforced from Black Virginians.

Marijuana will be legal in Virginia on July 1. Here’s what is and is not permitted underneath the new legislation.

She also named for the repeal of language incorporated in the new legislation that bars general public use, anything she claimed would correctly avert authorized use by the homeless and residents of community housing and personal complexes that incorporate language in leases prohibiting the use of cannabis.

“We’ve noticed sites like D.C. and New York when this happen — those are accurately the persons experience the brunt of the penalties. They’re just way too available to law enforcement.”

Attorney Typical Mark Herring tours gLeaf Clinical, a medical marijuana dispensary in Richmond, forward of the July 1 legalization of recreational grownup use. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Attorney Typical Mark Herring, one particular of the previously and far more vocal proponents of legalization in Virginia, claimed all substantial legislation requires compromise and refinement. Through a tour Tuesday of gLeaf, the health care dispensary in Richmond, he withheld judgement on the method the General Assembly has taken and the changes they will weigh when they convene subsequent year.

“My target is going to be determining any places transferring ahead that could will need to be altered because it conflicts with other locations of the regulation or it could not be successful,” he reported.

Asked if he experienced any lawful information for condition people making an attempt to navigate the intricacies of the new legislation, he referred intrigued events to an FAQ set up by the executive branch.

“I believe the condition has a good internet site,” he said. “Make certain you check out that so you’re in comprehensive compliance with any rules.”

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