On Friday, Virginia’s Senate and Delegates House-passed reforms to authorize cannabis within the Commonwealth, beating a crucial mid-session deadline and pushing the major reform a step closer to implementation.
Since top legislators and Ralph Northam launched their decriminalization proposal in January, The reforms were heard and changed by several commissions and sub-commissions.
The House ascended the final bill’s version in a 55-52 vote and two absentations. The Senate approved its proposal in a 23-15 vote a few hours later.
Senator Ebbin Adam uttered on the floor that the policy change is a deliberative and forward-thinking strategy to devise a controlled adult-use cannabis market. It will transform the state’s criminal justice structure and commence the long procedure of undoing criminalization harms. He added that the Commonwealth’s cannabis criminalization has failed absolutely.
During the Friday floor debate, some members of the House spoke against the legislation citing that authorization would culminate in increased impaired driving and youth-use.
Delegate Scott Don defended the bill and underscored that it offers social equity and assists improve communities worst hit by the marijuana prohibition.
In the Senate, one legislator who is gunning for the governor’s position this year said that authorization will make people succumb to death.
Senator Chase Amanda said that Virginia has a drug issue and authorizing cannabis will culminate in more cannabis overdoses and fatalities. She added that Democrats want more cannabis-related fatalities.
Friday is a crucial mid-session deadline to pass over reforms from one chamber to the next. The Senate edition will be passed to the House for hearing and consideration while the House edition will be tabled at the Senate.
It’s projected that a bicameral conference caucus will be formed to handle the differences between the two reforms and blend them into one proposal that the entire legislature can submit to the governor’s office.