Four months in and it’s already been a busy year for cannabis legislation. Lawmakers got to work in the first quarter of 2021 drafting cannabis legislation and approving voter passed laws. In this second quarter, these bills are starting to come to life with New Jersey, New York and Virginia officially legalizing cannabis.
In April 2021, Virginia passed a bill legalizing recreational cannabis. The bill does not go into effect until July 1, meaning anyone with possession of cannabis, sales of or any other infraction that is currently illegal will continue to be persecuted for the next two months. After July 1, possession of up to one ounce will be legal for adults 21 year or older.
Other changes include: small fines for possession between 1 ounce and 1 pound, gifting of one ounce is allowed, youth under 21 will pay a fine alongside substance abuse treatment programs and education mandates.
As of now, retail sales won’t begin until 2024. But the state is allowing people to grow up to 4 plants within state rules and guidelines. For the next three years, the only way to get cannabis in Virginia will be to grow it yourself or get it “gifted.”
New Jersey voters approved cannabis legalization in November, but the state has been slow to roll it out. That might be changing. In April, the newly created Cannabis Regulatory Commission held their first meeting. The result was…nothing so far. But the meeting is a good sign that things are moving forward, and the commission is starting its work of implementing the new law and building their recreational industry.
So what does cannabis legalization mean for New Jersey? We’ll find out as the commission continues to lay out new rules, guidelines and best practices for the industry.
Not to be outdone by its southern neighbor, New York swiftly came in and passed a cannabis bill of its own. Governor Cuomo officially signed a bill legalizing marijuana in the state at the end of March. As of signing, adults 21 and over are allowed to use and possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis.
Licenses for sales were created with the bill, although recreational sales have yet to begin. Once they do, it will also be legal for New Yorkers to grow up 12 plants per house (6 mature and 6 immature) 18 months after. Unlike some others, New York’s bill also expunges convictions for offenses that would now be legal under the new law.