NORFOLK, Va. - Virginia lawmakers decided to agree with Gov. Northam and legalize marijuana starting on July 1.
Northam amended legislation passed by the General Assembly to move up the legalization date from 2024 to 2021. In order for the amended legislation to take effect, lawmakers had to vote to approve it.
In the Senate the vote was 20-20 with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax voting in favor to break the tie.
Legalization of an ounce or less of marijuana will now be legal on July 1. Sales will not be legal until 2024. People can also grow up to four plants at their homes.
"The time has come for our state to legalize marijuana. The amendments ensure that while we aredoing the complicated work of standing up a commercial market we aren't delaying immediate reforms that will make our Commonwealth more equitable," said Del. Charniele Herring, the House Majority Leader.
Opponents said this is all going too fast and say the bill has huge implications that may not be currently understood. "I have more visitors coming to our family friendly resort city than anywhere else in the commonwealth and I can tell you July 1 if this bill passes, we're no longer a family friendly resort," said Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach).
With the slim majorities, Democrats were able to pass the bill and send the amendments off for final approval by Gov. Northam.
Click here to read more on the amendments which address inequitable enforcement of marijuana laws and legalize simple possession.