Starting July 1, the Commonwealth of Virginia will begin to enforce a number of new laws passed by the General Assembly during its 2021 session.
Most notably, recreational marijuana use will now be legal across the state for those adults over the age of 21. The law establishes a regulatory and licensing structure for the cultivation, manufacture, wholesale, and retail sale of retail marijuana and retail marijuana products. There are several staggered effective dates, and some provisions must be reenacted by the General Assembly before they take effect.
However, there are two issues related to employers. One, employees who partake are not part of a protected class that would prohibit employment discrimination. Experts say the change in the law doesn’t require major adjustments from employers, but it might prompt some to change common policies and practices, such as drug testing.
Second, there were provisions added that take a big hit to Virginia’s Right to Work law. The law requires that any company obtaining a license under this act give up their rights to defend themselves against unionization, eliminate the use of secret ballots when voting on whether to form a union, pay prevailing wages, limit its usage of independent contractors, and require businesses to provide their employees’ personal contact information to union organizers. This provision must be approved by the General Assembly next Session before it can take effect. NFIB Virginia will continue to oppose the inclusion of these provisions in the legalization of marijuana legislation.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority will now be authorized, after the adoption of a local ordinance, to work with localities to create areas where consumption of alcohol will be allowed in areas such as entertainment or walking districts. Patrons will be allowed to consume drinks outside the establishments within the designated outdoor area.
Other measures passed by the Assembly include allowing restaurants to continue selling cocktails to go. Another bill will allow wine and beer to continue to be delivered without a delivery permit for the remainder of the calendar year.
The General Assembly also passed a bill that allows government attorneys to take enforcement actions against unlawful games of skill, often found in convenience stores.
For a full list of new laws taking effect this week, please review the official legislation summary document here.