Much has changed over the last two months. One thing that hopefully has not is the momentum for marijuana reform at both the state and federal levels. On that front, there is good news emanating from Virginia.
On April 12, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam (D) approved a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession. The bill does not authorize marijuana possession or sales, but removes the threat of jail or prison time for “simple” possession. Virginia is the 16th state to decriminalize marijuana, and another 11 states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized marijuana (although Vermont and D.C. do not permit sales).
Proponents of full legalization are hopeful that this is just a first step. The Virginia legislature has approved a study of the impacts of full legalization, but we are skeptical that a full legalization push is imminent. Although Virginia has, especially recently, moved politically away from other southern states, no southern state has legalized, or even appears close to legalizing, recreational marijuana. That said, sometimes the dominoes fall quickly, and Virginia and Florida are the mostly likely candidates among southern states.
We will continue to monitor events in Virginia and elsewhere on our blog.