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Virginia Legislature Passes Marijuana Legalization Bills

By Eric Volkman - Feb 8, 2021 at 4:45PM

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The "Green Wave" of November 2020 is starting to spread.

Both chambers of Virginia's General Assembly have passed marijuana legalization measures.

Two somewhat different bills got the green light Friday, with the House of Delegates voting 55-42 in favor of its measure, and the Senate passing one by a 23-15 majority. Both would pave the way for the legal sale, possession, and consumption of cannabis in the state, and for retail sales of such products to begin in 2024.

The differences between the bills now must be reconciled before a final piece of legislation goes to Gov. Ralph Northam for his signature. Northam, a Democrat, has been supportive of marijuana law reform, and has indicated he will sign such legislation when it reaches his desk. In July 2020, the drug was decriminalized in the state, although technically, possession of it remains illegal.

Gavel with marijuana atop an American flag.

Image source: Getty Images.

Virginia's latest move comes barely three months after the so-called "Green Wave." On Election Day, residents of five states overwhelmingly voted to allow various degrees of legalization. As predicted by numerous observers, that seems to have inspired a trend. On the federal level, three prominent Democratic senators have pledged to prioritize marijuana legalization, and said they would begin the process of introducing legislation to do so within months. Several more states are now seriously considering doing so within their own borders by legislative means.

On Monday, investors bid up the prices of marijuana stocks on the Virginia news. At the moment, no specific cannabis company appears to be the most obvious candidate to pounce on that state's local market.

However, several notable operators are active in neighboring Maryland, where marijuana is permitted for medical use. Among these are Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF -2.11%) through its Rise dispensary brand, and Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF).

In mid-afternoon trading Monday, both Green Thumb and Harvest were outperforming the S&P 500 index; each was up by around 3%.

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