Virginia May Be The First State In The South To Legalize Cannabis

With marijuana stocks and the entire cannabis industry centered around cannabis legalization, there is much to look forward to. In recent news, the state of Virginia has initiated the process to be the first southern state to legalize cannabis. State legislators in Virginia have given their final word this past weekend that they introduce a bill to legalize cannabis for full recreation.

This bill will not be able to be voted on until 2024 this also when the sale of retail marijuana will start to happen. This bill would work with both political parties of Virginia to be as mentioned above the first southern state to go full rec. If the state passes this new bill it would accompany 15 other states that have already legalized the adult use of cannabis. The legislation now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports legalization.

The Democratic party has put cannabis legislation at the top of its list of things that need to be accomplished in 2021. As well the Democrats have said that proper cannabis reform is a vital part of the process to end the racial injustice with current marijuana laws. However, discussions involving the Democrats in the House and Senate became tense during that time. Yet a compromise version of the massive bill did not surface publicly until late Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been a lot of work to get here, but I would say that we’re on the path to an equitable law allowing responsible adults to use cannabis,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, the chief sponsor of the Senate bill.

Is Virginia Ready For Cannabis Legislation?

With Virginia setting up to go legal more cannabis companies will look to become apart of a new marijuana market. If the state’s new cannabis bill passes in 2024 it will potentially set a new standard for other southern states. Various Democrats have stated that they believe
that Northam would send the legislation back to them with revisions, that involve pushing up the date for legalization.

“If we have already made the decision that simple possession should be repealed, we could have done that today and ended the disproportionate fines on communities of color,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellan.

“Let’s be absolutely clear — this bill is not legalization, and there are a lot of steps between here and legalization,” she stated

With this new bill comes a set of new laws and regulations. One of them would be a person would be able to have up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower starting Jan. 1, 2024. Furthermore, consumers will be able to buy marijuana at the same time as regulations will go into effect to control the marijuana marketplace in Virginia.

The Future Of Cannabis Legislation In The South

Democrats in the Senate emphasized that this potential legislation will incorporate a reenactment clause. This clause will need a second vote from the General Assembly the following year. This second vote will be for the regulatory structure and criminal penalties for several offenses. Which will involve underage use and using cannabis in public. However, there won’t be a need for a second vote on legalization.

Currently, the Senate is working to pass a law that would legalize simple possession in 2021. The goal behind this particular bill is to immediately end penalties for people caught with small amounts of marijuana. Yet House Democrats debated that legalization without a legal market for marijuana could increase the growth of the black market. Back in 2020 lawmakers decriminalized marijuana, making simple possession a civil $25 penalty

House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said that while the legislation isn’t perfect, it was a “justice bill.”

“This moves us in a … direction to strike down and to address those institutional barriers, and over-policing, over-arrests, over-convictions of African Americans who do not use marijuana at a higher rate than our white counterparts, but we seem to get the brunt of criminal convictions,” Herring stated.

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Will Cannabis Be Booming Industry In The South?

Not long ago research was done by legislators and the watchdog agency. During this study, both groups identified that from 2010-2019 more black people were arrested than white people for cannabis possession. Also, they pointed out that people of color were convicted at a rate 3.9 times higher than white people.

Overall many new states that are passing cannabis legislation are adding measures to promote racial equality. These measures will help create programs that give back to those who have been impacted by the war on drugs. Essentially the cannabis industry is building the power to change the game and provide opportunities past the sale of cannabis.

With proper cannabis legislation, each new state has the ability to generate revenue to help build better communities.  More progress in the cannabis industry creates more excitement for more people to invest. This causes more positive sentiment for cannabis stocks. All in all, it would be remarkable for Virginia to be the first southern state to legalize recreational marijuana.

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