RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia General Assembly gave final approval to a bill to legalize simple possession of marijuana and limited home growth beginning July 1, 2021, three years sooner than initially planned.
The accelerated timeline won a majority in the House and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) broke a 20-20 tie in the Senate on Wednesday during a session dedicated to the consideration of Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget and bill amendments.
The vote makes Virginia the first state in the South to green light recreational cannabis and the 16th state overall, including D.C.
When the new law takes effect this summer, Virginians will still be barred from smoking in public and in a vehicle. Penalties remain for youth use and possession on school property.
It will be legal to grow up to four marijuana plants beginning July 1, it could be several years (2024?) before the state begins licensing recreational marijuana retailers. And unlike other states, the law won’t allow the commonwealth’s existing medical dispensaries to begin selling to all adults immediately.