Northam Proposes Legalizing Marijuana in July

Marijuana legalization is back on track for July, after Governor Ralph Northam announced amendments to legalization legislation. In February, legislators surprised marijuana policy watchers by delaying the effective date of legalization until 2024, leading the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia to blast the bills as worse than nothing. Since then, legalization advocates have lobbied Northam to amend the legislation to go into effect in July, when most other recently-passed bills take effect.

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Virginia General Assembly Postpones Marijuana Legalization Until 2024

The Virginia General Assembly passed marijuana legalization bills on Saturday, a move that had been expected to make Virginia the first southern state to legalize marijuana. However, legislators from the House of Delegates and the Senate passed a compromise that delays legalization and retail sale of marijuana until 2024. The compromise, created in a conference committee, also requires another vote in 2022 to confirm parts of the bill.

While some legalization advocates said passage of the bill was progress, others criticized it.

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General Assembly Advances Conflicting Bills on Medical Marijuana Legalization in Tennessee

Two bills are wrestling over whether Tennessee will have immediate or postponed legalization of medical marijuana. The two bills – the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act and the proposal to establish a medical cannabis commission – pose a direct challenge to one another. The former would outright legalize medical marijuana, enacting an entirely new chapter within the Tennessee Code under Title 68: Health, Safety and Environmental Protection. If passed, Tennessee would join 36 states in legalizing cannabis for medical purposes.

The latter would pump the brakes on the momentum sought by the former. Instead, the bill would establish a commission reviewing federal and state laws on the subject, and would provide that no medical cannabis program be enacted by the state until the federal government removes marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The commission would publish annual reports and recommendations, beginning next year and continuing indefinitely – that is, until the federal government adjusts marijuana on its controlled substances list.

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DFL Introduces Adult-Use Cannabis Bill Opposed by Senate Leader

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, has introduced adult-use cannabis legislation that a Senate Republican leader opposes.

The bill is derived from conversations in 15 communities statewide.

“The tide is shifting,” Winkler said in a press conference about the 15 states that’ve legalized marijuana so far.

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Virginia Marijuana Legalization Bills Prioritize Licenses and Loans to People with Marijuana Convictions

Marijuana legalization bills are approaching a floor vote in both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate. In addition to removing criminal penalties, the 274-page bills essentially create an entire industry, including regulation of business licenses, creating taxes, and incentivizing entrepreneurs to enter the market.

But Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) said all of that is just a shell.

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Virginia Legislators Expect to Legalize Marijuana in 2021, but Massive Changes Needed Might Slow the Process

It’s not quite a nonpartisan issue, but Virginia legislators expect an effort to legalize marijuana will receive enough bipartisan support to pass in the 2021 regular session. The biggest hurdle to the plan is the massive legislative changes that are required. Legislators have to choose how the cannabis business will interact with many sectors of business and government including banking, law enforcement, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Taxation, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

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Virginia House and Senate Pass Another Bill to Further Decriminalize Marijuana

Virginia’s House and Senate passed another bill further decriminalizing marijuana. Under the bill, the drug’s scent would no longer be a sufficient cause for searching a vehicle.
The House passed the bill in a 51-45 vote. On Friday, the Senate approved to substitute some of the language of the bill.

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