Virginia lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that will legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis sales for adults 21 and over on April 7th. Virginia is now the 17th state to legalize cannabis for adult use and the fourth state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature. Thirteen additional states have legalized by voter initiative.
“Virginia legislators are proving that it is possible to work swiftly to pass legislation that will not only legalize cannabis, but also address the disproportionate harm caused by decades of prohibition,” said Steve Hawkins, MPP’s executive director. “Virginia is the just the latest state to end cannabis prohibition and replace it with sensible legalization and regulation for adults 21 and over. MPP is proud to have played an important role in three of the four states where legislatures have voted to legalize cannabis — Vermont, Illinois, and now, Virginia.”
In addition to legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and over, the law will establish a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund that will be used to support persons, families, and communities that have been disproportionately affected by enforcement of cannabis laws. Legal possession and personal cultivation will begin on July 1, 2021.
Virginia is also one of 36 states with a medical cannabis program, and in May 2020, Virginia decriminalized simple cannabis possession.
Several other state legislatures are considering legalization this year. Last week, New York became the 16th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over, while a legalization bill in New Mexico awaits the governor’s signature. Bills that would legalize cannabis are also being seriously considered in Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.
A 2020 Gallup poll found 68% of Americans support legalization, while Civiqs’ polling shows majority or plurality support in every single state.
“It’s encouraging to see that legislators in so many states are embracing regulation as an alternative to failed prohibition policies,” said Matt Simon, MPP’s senior legislative analyst. “Virginia is the first state in the South to legalize cannabis, and we can be certain that others will follow as public support continues to grow.”
View a summary of the bill here.