Lawmakers voted to approve a change to legislation submitted by Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to the state legislature that legalizes marijuana, making Virginia the first Southern state to decriminalize pot.
The Associated Press reports that Northam’s changes would legalize individuals to possess marijuana and grown a limited number of plants themselves by July, speeding up the legalization process by up to three years.
“The time has come for our state to legalize marijuana. The amendments ensure that while we’re doing the complicated work of standing up a commercial market, we aren’t delaying immediate reforms that will make our Commonwealth more equitable for all Virginians,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said while arguing that the legislation with the changes should pass.
The final version of the legislation would allow adults 21 and up to legally possess up to one ounce (28.3 grams) of cannabis without the intent to distribute beginning July 1. It also would allow the home cultivation of up to four plants per household beginning July 1. Public use of the drug will be prohibited.
Retail sales will not begin until July 1, 2024.