PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — After years of attempts, could 2021 be the year local Del. Steve Heretick’s marijuana legalization bill passes in the Virginia General Assembly?

Heretick (D-Portsmouth), who’s proposed both decriminalization and legalization bills in the past, reintroduced his signature legislation to “legalize the cultivation, sale, and consumption of marijuana in Virginia.” 

The proposed legislation provides for the issuing of licenses for cultivation and retail services and legalizes home cultivation for personal use.

Groups across the Commonwealth have “praised” the legislation for its potential to create jobs, small business efforts, and support within farming communities.

His legalization bill from 2019 proposed taxing marijuana sales at 15 percent, with two-thirds of the revenue going to the state’s general fund and the rest going to public education.

Many Virginia public officials, including Governor Ralph Northam, have announced their support for legislation legalizing the adult use of marijuana.  

In Nov. 2020, Northam said he plans to propose legislation during the 2021 legislative session, a process he said could take up to two years.

But he added that he’s certain the drug will eventually be legal for personal use and Virginia, as a result, could become the first state in the South to do so.

“Legalizing marijuana will happen in Virginia,” Northam said.

This growing support follows sustained efforts at legal reform legislation sponsored by Heretick and others, including the historic decriminalization legislation which he co-sponsored in the 2020 Session

According to a statement released by Heretick’s office, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) Study bill provided Virginia legislators with a comprehensive overview of the public policy considerations associated with marijuana legalization. 

If passed, Virginia would join over 40 other states in enacting major policy reforms associated with marijuana. 

“This bill is built upon the lessons of other states throughout the country which have enacted similar reforms,” Heretick said. “With the support of Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, and a growing consensus of bipartisan support from legislators and local leaders around the Commonwealth, and now Virginia Governor Northam and key members of his administration, this is legislation which has now matured for enactment.”

“I look forward to a robust and inclusive conversation about the manner in which Virginia will act on this legislation this year.”