Virginia has become the sixteenth state, and first in the South, to legalize marijuana. Per the AP, state lawmakers gave final approval Saturday to a bill that will legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. With a compromise bill clearing the House and Senate, Virginia joins 15 other states and the District of Columbia. The legislation now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports legalization. The bill was a top priority for Democrats, who framed legalization as a necessary step to end the disparate treatment of people of color under current marijuana laws. But talks between Democrats in the House and Senate grew tense in recent days, and a compromise version of the massive bill did not emerge publicly until late Saturday afternoon.
Per Politico, the House passed the measure in a 48-43 vote and the Senate approved it 20-19, with no Republican members of either chamber voting to approve. The vote follows the state's move last year to decriminalize marijuana and could push states like Maryland currently at the cusp of legalization over the edge, analysts say. The bill legalizes
possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and allows regulated sales to begin starting Jan. 1, 2024. (Read more marijuana legalization stories.)