Virginia: The place marijuana reform laws is forward of Friday’s crossover date

Keep track of all marijuana-related bills for Virginia 20201

Marijuana-related legislation was at the forefront during the short Virginia General Assembly of 2021 that began Jan. 13. With the transition date (when bills need to be submitted to the opposing chamber) approaching this Friday, several laws legalizing adult use have been enacted with the deletion of previous records, expansion of access to medical cannabis, and employment protection moving forward rapidly. Below is a summary of the current status of these various legislative efforts.

legalization

Two pending legalization measures, filed by Senators Adam Ebbin and Lousie Lucas on behalf of Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, and Majority Leader’s Delegate Charniele Herring, legalize the responsible use and personal cultivation of cannabis by adults aged 21 and over, the process of eradication certain marijuana-related offenses and the establishment of a legal framework for commercial cannabis production, manufacture, testing and sales. The bills also allocate a portion of the proceeds to preschool programs for young people at risk, as well as public health programs.

Delegate Herring Bill 2312 has been approved by the General Laws and Courts Committee and is now awaiting approval by the Grants Committee before it can get into the House.

Senators Ebbin and Lucas’ Senate Act 1406 await action from the Senate Finance and Funds Committee before going to the Senate. The law previously approved the Senate’s Justice, Rehabilitation, and Social Services Committees.

Extinction

To exonerate individuals with previous marijuana-related charges in the state of Virginia, Senate Bill 1372 and House Bill 2113 establish a process for automatically deleting previous criminal records for certain marijuana convictions.

The house version received the green light from both the courts’ committees and the funds committees and is now in front of the house. The Senate version went through the Justice Committee and is now awaiting approval by the Senate Finance Committee.

Medical expansion

Legislation to expand the existing government program for access to medical cannabis is also pending.

House Bill 1988 was last unanimously approved by the Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions. The law aims to improve Virginia’s Medical Cannabis program by ensuring that people in hospice, care, and assisted living facilities can safely access medical cannabis and that telemedicine options for patient certification continue after the pandemic be allowed.

Senate Bill 1333 and House Bill 2218 would further enhance the state’s existing medical cannabis program, allowing pharmaceutical processors to manufacture and distribute botanical medicinal cannabis in addition to currently available extraction-based products.

SB 1333 has been reported from the Committee on Education and Health with an alternate language and is now awaiting action from the Committee on Finance and Resources. House Bill 1988 and HB 2218 rose from the Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions to the House Floor.

Osh

House Bill 1862 provides employment protection for medical cannabis patients. The bill would prohibit employers from dismissing, disciplining, or discriminating against an employee for the lawful use of medical cannabis by registered patients. This action is waiting for action on the floor of the house.

What’s next?

If these invoices receive their votes on the third and last floor by Friday, February 5th, the respective chamber of origin will be released before the key transition period has expired.

It is in the interests of lawmakers to support the advancement of these bills, as a recently published Christopher Newport University statewide poll found that 68% of Virginia registered voters, including the majority of Democrats and Republicans, support legalizing adult marijuana .

68% of Virginians support legalization

Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Development Director, commented on the new survey data: “This latest survey data makes it clear that the Virginians overwhelmingly oppose the ban and are ready for their representatives to adopt SB1406 and HB2312 to make cannabis for Responsible Adults 21 and to legalize and regulate older. Legislators can no longer claim that such measures are not supported by their constituents, as we now know that a majority of Republican and Democratic voters in Virginia are in favor of legalization. “

Pedini, who also serves as Executive Director of Virginia NORML, added, “With the deadline for the crossover approaching, efforts have largely been focused on getting these bills in a position palatable to the majority of their respective chambers around them by their floor votes required to be promoted. There are still many details to be debated and that is likely to happen a little further in the legislative process. “

For more information, visit Virginia NORML to pursue all laws related to marijuana in the Virginia 2021 General Assembly.

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