On Thursday, a Senate panel endorsed legalizing the possession of recreational marijuana in Virginia by this summer, though legal sales could take much longer.
The change was suggested as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee continued to debate a lengthy and complex bill in which few provisions are final.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) introduced the amendment in light of recent marijuana decriminalization, which took effect less than six months ago.
“If we know we’re going down the road of legalizing, it seems to me that the repeal of simple possession at a minimum should take effect July 1 of this year,” McClellan said. “Otherwise, all we’re doing is setting up a situation where people are paying civil fines for something that is going to be completely legal eventually.”
As the bill stands, individuals 21 and older could have up to an ounce legally in Virginia. Any amount between an ounce and five pounds would result in a $25 fine, which would be paid like a traffic ticket, according to Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth).
While lawmakers may bump up the legalization of simple possession, Virginians may not be able to legally purchase pot until 2024. That’s because the Senate is backing the creation of a new, independent agency to oversee the budding industry. [Read more at ABC 8 News]