Virginia Expected to Become First Southern State to Legalize Marijuana. On Friday, Virginia’s General Assembly voted 55-42 to allow the possession, manufacture and sale of marijuana. . The legislation will officially pass once Governor Ralph Northam signs it, which he has already indicated he will. From there, regulated merchants will be able to start selling cannabis in the state in 2024. This latest progressive win will make Virginia the first Southern state to legalize marijuana. . A state study found that the sale of marijuana is expected to raise around $300 million in tax revenue. . That money will fund programs aimed to address the effects of marijuana criminalization, public health, preschool programs and addiction treatment. Delegate Don Scott called the legislation an “opportunity” to give communities that have been “decimated” by the “war on drugs” an “economic leg up.” . According to a 2018 investigation by ‘The Daily Press,’ Black Virginians are unfairly targeted by the state’s marijuana laws. . The investigation found that Black defendants charged with marijuana possession were far more likely to receive jail time than white defendants, who were more likely to get a second chance. . The difference is glaring, as only 20 percent of Virginia’s residents are Black and similar rates of marijuana use have been found among Black and white residents. . In addition to legalization, Governor Northam’s office also said that he is developing a plan to expunge marijuana-related offenses.

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