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Lawmakers talk possession and age limits in Virginia's latest marijuana legalization efforts

The General Assembly decriminalized the drug in 2020.

NORFOLK, Va. — The legalization of marijuana is one of the biggest issues facing Virginia's state legislature this year. 

The General Assembly took a major step in 2020 by decriminalizing the drug. But without it being fully legalized, there are still possibilities of civil charges and fines for those caught with it. 

On Friday, lawmakers told 13News Now the focus and conversation have shifted toward outlining the rules and regulations surrounding possession of the drug.

“Now we’re going the extra step into legalizing marijuana," State Sen. Joseph Morrisey said, a proponent of marijuana legalization legislation, with Sen. Adam Ebbin and Sen. Louise Lucas as the bill's chief patrons. 

State senators deliberated inside a subcommittee session Friday afternoon, with recommendations on their way to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. 

“Most people would expect marijuana possession to be illegal on school property, like alcohol. Open container laws just like an open can of beer... people probably don’t want marijuana open in a car," State Sen. Scott Surovell said, representing the 36th district. 

While it's expected to take years for the cannabis industry to be up and functioning fully, getting some kind of legislative action on the books is a priority for the shortened 2021 legislative session, like setting the age limits for marijuana possession. 

“So that somebody 21 years or older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana with no penalty, civil or criminal whatsoever," Sen. Morrissey said. 

Lawmakers say recommendations from Friday's subcommittee hearing will next go to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee.

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