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Using marijuana at the 420ish Unity Festival not allowed legally

The Portsmouth festival will feature a slew of hip-hop and reggae acts. Despite the name, public consumption of marijuana is still illegal under Virginia law.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The 420ish Unity Festival is rolling up this weekend, bringing a slew of musical acts to the Portsmouth Sportsplex just a few days after the annual celebration of marijuana.

Promoted as "bridging the gap between all walks of life," the festival will feature musical performances from popular hip-hop and reggae artists, including City Girls, Rick Ross, Shaggy and Gucci Mane.

But despite the name of the event, people won't be allowed to use weed at the 420ish Unity Festival legally.

That's because public consumption of the drug is still illegal in Virginia, even though the state legalized adult use of marijuana within certain settings in 2021.

The state law reads: "No person shall consume marijuana or a marijuana product or offer marijuana or a marijuana product to another, whether accepted or not, at or in any public place." Those who break this law could face a maximum fine of $25 on the first offense.

When granting approval of the 420ish Unity Festival, Portsmouth city officials were adamant that event organizers ensure that the consumption of cannabis won't be permitted on city-owned property.

According to a letter sent to organizers from City Manager Angel Jones, the event's approval was contingent on meeting certain conditions, including a plan detailing how marijuana use would be prevented.

Last month, co-organizer Lakeesha Atkinson told 13News Now that the event will abide by state marijuana laws and will have strict security measures in place.

On Wednesday, Portsmouth Spokeswoman Dana Woodson confirmed that event organizers have met all of the conditions required. 

13News Now reached out to organizers for more details about how they will address marijuana use during the event.

The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday with doors opening at noon each day. For more information, visit 420ish Unity Festival's website.

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