As of July 1, 2020, Virginia’s marijuana decriminalization policy officially came into effect, making the Commonwealth of Virginia the 27th state to enact such a policy change. This came a month after Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill that would make possession of up to one ounce of cannabis punishable by a $25 fine with no threat of jail time and no criminal record. Prior to this policy change, simple possession was punishable by a maximum $500 fine, up to 30 days in jail and a criminal record.
And just a day after the marijuana decriminalization law took effect, Virginian lawmakers announced their plans for a legal cannabis market. On July 2, 2020, a group of Democratic state legislators announced plans to introduce a bill to legalize and regulate a commercial cannabis market. The measure won’t be filed until next year, but lawmakers have said that the legislation is necessary in the fight for racial and social justice.
“Decriminalizing marijuana is an important step in mitigating racial disparities in the criminal justice system, but there is still much work to do. While marijuana arrests across the nation have decreased, arrests in Virginia have increased,” says House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. The measure for broader cannabis legalization was also backed by Sens. Adam Ebbin, Jennifer McClellan, and Del. Steve Heretick.
“This bill will prevent low-level offenders from receiving jail time for simple possession while we move toward legalization with a framework that addresses both public safety and racial equity in an emerging market,” says Herring regarding the decriminalization bill. She sponsored it in the House of Delegates while Ebbin led it in the Senate. The bill also contains a provision to study further legalization, and it requires agencies including the “Secretaries of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health, and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security” to convene an expert working group to study further legalization. The panel is expected to turn in a report in November.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (“JLARC”) is also studying the impact of possible legalization and its report is due in December. According to lawmakers, the JLARC report would inform how they shape the legalization bill they plan to file in 2021. “Elements of the JLARC study include a review of best practices from states such as Illinois that have developed a legal framework, testing and labeling recommendations, and measures to reduce illicit sales,” said a press release from Ebbin’s office.
“The study will also examine how best to provide redress and economic opportunity for communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition, and recommend programs and policies to reinvest in affected communities.”
Analysts say this plan to go for full legalization of marijuana in Virginia is likely to be watched closely by cannabis companies like Sugarmade, Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) who would like all adults to be free to choose whether to or not to consume cannabis as is the case with alcohol and cigarettes.
CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of two informative articles each business day. Our concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. Articles are released each business day at 4:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. Eastern – our tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.
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