Virginia Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Marijuana in Virginia
  • A little over a week after New York legalized recreational marijuana, Virginia joined them in an attempt to battle against the targeting of Black residents when it comes to marijuana convictions.
  • Virginia lawmakers had previously agreed to legalize marijuana beginning in 2024, but approved Gov. Northam’s request to move the start date to July 1st, 2021.
  • In the coming months, Virginia residents will be allowed to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana. 

Virginia has officially become the first southern state in the United States to legalize recreational marijuana, and has now become the 16th state to do so, with New York legalizing a little over a week earlier.

Gov. Ralph Northam had his request approved by Virginia lawmakers to allow adults in the state to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana beginning July 1st this year. Just earlier this year, lawmakers had voted to legalize marijuana in 2024, but agreed with Northam’s stance that speeding up the process would be beneficial for the state in order to improve public safety and worker protections.

“Today, with the Governor’s amendments, we will have made tremendous progress in ending the targeting of Black and brown Virginians through selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition by this summer,” Democratic House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Gov. Northam’s office reported that the state found that Black people were the majority of those being policed and convicted for marijuana use in Virginia. This was one of the biggest motivating factors for speeding up the legalization date.

With New York and Virginia joining the “green list,” many experts and investors sit anxiously awaiting to see if any other states legalize marijuana. Pennsylvania has had talks of recreational marijuana for a couple of years, but it has failed to gain the momentum it needs to pass, despite the majority of residents living there supporting legalization.

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