Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia plans to sign a bill passed by state lawmakers to legalize marijuana, according to media reports, but he may amend the measure to move up the start date for the legalization of cannabis possession. Virginia legislators reached a compromise on legalizing cannabis in the state late last month with the passage of House Bill 2312.
But a provision of the measure widely criticized by criminal justice reform advocates delays the legalization of marijuana possession until legal retail sales of adult-use cannabis begin on July 1, 2024. Supporters of the provision argue that illicit operators could capture the market while regulations for licensed cannabis businesses are drafted.
Virginia public media outlet VPM is reporting that sources familiar with the governor’s discussions with lawmakers say he is expected to ask that the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana be legalized beginning on July 1 of this year. Northam also indicated in an interview on Wednesday that he would amend the bill.
“I personally don’t think we should be arresting or penalizing somebody for something we’re getting ready to legalize,” Northam said. “I plan to place a number of amendments in front of the legislature and hopefully we’ll