Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam detoured his signing of adult-use cannabis legislation, but an amendment package decided by a tiebreaker cleared a path for the stroke of his pen on Wednesday.
The state’s legislative chambers overcame differences to pass a compromise bill on Feb. 27, after each body passed different measures—Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312—to legalize cannabis possession, personal cultivation and retail sales for adults 21 years and older.
The problem? Those legalization efforts, including possession laws, would not have gone into full effect until Jan. 1, 2024. Following the legislature’s passage, Jenn Michelle Pedini, Virginia’s executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said that timeline wasn’t good enough and she hoped to continue working to accelerate specific facets of legalization. Northam agreed and pushed to expedite certain components of the legislature’s bill.
On April 7, the General Assembly approved the Democratic governor’s amendment package by way of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax casting the deciding vote in a split Senate. As a result, adults 21 years and older will be allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to four plants per household starting July 1, 2021—speeding up the timeline 2