by Jenn Michelle Pedini
on February 05, 2021
Members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate, for the first time ever, separately approved a pair of adult-use marijuana legalization measures today.
Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312 legalize the responsible use and personal cultivation of cannabis by adults ages 21 and older, provide for the automatic expungement process of certain marijuana-related offenses, and establish a regulatory framework for commercial cannabis production, manufacturing, testing, and retail sales. The bills also earmark a portion of revenue to pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk youth as well as for public health programs.
HB 2312 was approved by the House of Delegates by a 55 to 42 vote, sending it on to the Senate for further consideration. The Senate later approved SB 1406 by a 23 to 15 vote, which will now be transmitted to the House.
Commenting on the historic votes, NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini -- who also serves as the executive Director of Virginia NORML -- said: “Virginians have been clear in their support for this issue and Governor Northam agrees, it is time to legalize the responsible use of cannabis by adults in the Commonwealth. And while today’s historic votes seek to put this majority public opinion into practice, there still remains much work to be done by NORML and others to ensure that Virginia gets it right and implements legislation that is expeditious and just.”
The bill passages come on the day of Virginia’s key crossover deadline, when bills must be transmitted to the opposing chamber.
The two versions of the bills differ slightly from one another. Lawmakers will likely resolve those issues later in the session in a conference committee.
Separate legislative measures facilitating the expunging of past records, expanding medical cannabis, and protecting certain employees who use cannabis in their off-hours from discrimination in the workplace were also approved by their respective chambers of origin and will now cross over to the opposing chamber.
Just-released statewide polling data shows that 68% of registered voters in Virginia, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans, support legalizing marijuana for adults.