Lawmakers in Virginia over the weekend approved a bill to legalize recreational marijuana use, a historic breakthrough for cannabis advocates in the southern United States.
A so-called “compromise bill” was passed in the Virginia legislature on Saturday—winning approval by narrow margins in each chamber. According to Politico, the legislation passed by a 48-43 vote in the Virginia House, and 20-19 in the Senate.
The bill now heads to the desk of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, who had said he wanted marijuana legalization approved this year. With the successful approval in the legislature over the weekend, Virginia becomes the first southern state to legalize marijuana.
Under the legislation that was passed, recreational marijuana sales would not begin in the commonwealth until 2024. According to Politico, the bill “sets a 21 percent excise tax on marijuana and allows municipalities to add an additional 3 percent tax on retailers on top of existing sales taxes,” with tax revenues being used to “fund pre-K education, substance use disorder treatment programs and other public health initiatives” and toward “a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, which would provide resources such as scholarships and workforce development for communities disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement.”
The legislation would