February 8, 2021 10:52 am ETEstimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
An OG of the nation, Virginia, has officially passed the bill to legalize adult-use cannabis. In a historic vote on Feb 5, 2020, the commonwealth’s House of Delegates and Senate passed two adult-use legalization measures. The governor is expected to soon sign off this legislation and another vote will finalize the legal framework of the program that will hopefully be functioning by 2024.
Virginia, an American OG
Nearly all of America has some form of legal access to cannabis. There are only a handful of states still supporting outdated draconian cannabis laws. Laws that have torn apart communities and attacked minorities for far too long. Previously, Virginia had some of the strictest laws against cannabis. But the state eventually decriminalized cannabis possession in July of 2020 and expanded its severely limiting medical cannabis program. Now, Virginia has the chance to recognize this deterred past and make a positive change for the future by legalizing the freedom for recreational use. The birthplace of a nation and the mother of presidents could set an example to the remaining states still in support of outdated cannabis laws. Virginia holds the title of being the first permanent English settlement. It became a state on June 25th of 1788. Virginia is among the 13 original colonies making it one of America’s OG’s.
The United States government holds a heavy influence on how the nation is shaped. This couldn’t be any more evident than it is in the state of Virginia. Originally, Virginia was one state but was ultimately divided during the Civil War when West Virginia separated from Virginia. West Virginia supported the union while Virginia joined the Confederacy back in 1861.
All people of color and those who are financially challenged have suffered greatly thanks in part to anti-cannabis laws designed by the US federal government. According to a state website, “Virginia law includes stiffer criminal penalties when a crime is motivated by a bias against the victim’s race color religion, or national origin.” Virginia should really pay attention to the wording of these laws and see just how hateful charges against cannabis patients and consumers in general are.
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United We Stand, Divided We Fall
United we stand and divided we fall. By allowing states to make up their own rules about cannabis and yet keeping it federally illegal, the US government is essentially dividing our nation between progressive and outdated draconian cannabis laws. This also makes for a huge confusion in the united part of the United States. How can a medical cannabis patient in the state of California drive from California to West Virginia and run the risk of breaking laws along the way yet be legal in certain areas? How is that equality and justice for all?
Virginia has stepped forward and joined the ranks of states who have legalized adult-use cannabis. Virginia’s current Governor Ralph Northam has enthusiastically expressed support of legalizing recreational adult-use cannabis but has also expressed that it won’t be an overnight fix.
Many of the states clinging to the draconian support of cannabis prohibition are southern states such as South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Since recreational cannabis laws passed in Virginia, it’s one of, if not the first, of the southern states to officially see the success of this magnitude supporting adult-use cannabis legalization. But let’s not get too excited yet. The state is still working on getting its medical cannabis program up and running. Since the state mandates that its cannabis industry is vertically integrated, it has had a major impact on the timeliness of getting products on the shelves. There are regional dispensaries that have still yet to open, there is limited inventory, and more patients than there is purchasable medicine. But lawmakers are remaining hopeful that Virginia will have an active adult-use cannabis market by the seemingly far-off year of 2024.
Nonetheless, progress has come to Virginia! Governor Northam, along with key members that are part of the governor’s administration along with Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring support cannabis legalization. There’s also growing support from legislators and local leaders throughout the commonwealth. And with the support of the people, Virginia has made a complete turnaround from a draconian prohibition state to embracing the natural benefits of cannabis.
Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist that fights to end prohibition globally for a better future for all. Ashley has a passion for sharing education pertaining to the goddess plant known as cannabis. She believes that a single seed can tip the scales and that together through education we can end the stigma that is preventing cannabis from flowering to its full potential globally.
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