Virginia Cannabis Advocates Will Hand Out 10,000 Pot Seeds To Celebrate Legalization And Promote Homegrow Cannabis legalization goes into effect tomorrow in Virginia and—as the saying goes—good This afternoon near the Rosslyn Metro station, Bob Marley was playing and a flag featuring a joint and the words "Come and Take It" was flying. The event was
Virginia Cannabis Advocates Will Hand Out 10,000 Pot Seeds To Celebrate Legalization And Promote Homegrow
Cannabis legalization goes into effect tomorrow in Virginia and—as the saying goes—good seed makes a good crop. Advocates are getting ready to hand out 10,000 cannabis seeds on Thursday, July 1 to celebrate the first day of legal pot in the commonwealth.
Organized by Virginia Marijuana Justice (VAMJ), “The Great Commonwealth Cannabis Seed Share” hopes to raise awareness about legal home cultivation, and to draw attention to “holes” in Virginia’s new cannabis laws.
The seeds—ovular in form and roughly the size of a peppercorn—are being donated by cultivators and meticulously packed into thousands of small ziplock bags by volunteers.
They will be distributed at three locations around the state: the Rosslyn Metro station in Arlington, Your CBD Store outside Richmond, and a private home in Charlottesville. Those looking to lend a helping hand can sign up to volunteer using this Google form .
In 2015, VAMJ’s sister branch in Washington, D.C. organized a similar seed handout to mark the passage of Initiative 71, a ballot measure that legalized possession and cultivation in the District.
“Some people didn’t know about the new law, as it pertains to home cultivation, until our volunteers handed them a free packet of seeds,” Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, said in a press release. “So there is a significant educational component to our giveaways.”
In April, Gov. Ralph Northam signed off on a bill that legalized the possession, cultivation, and sale of recreational cannabis in Virginia. The new statute, which goes into effect on Thursday, allows adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and to grow a maximum of four plants per household.
VAMJ says those limits are too low, and fail to take into account the commonwealth’s skyrocketing growing demand for cannabis. The group is pushing lawmakers to raise the cap on home cultivation to six plants per person and up to 12 plants per household. In neighboring D.C., adults are authorized to grow up to six plants per household provided only three are mature, meaning they are ready to produce flower.
“We will continue to make our message clear that we want to be free to grow an amount of cannabis to actually meet our needs, and for punitive penalties to be eliminated,” said Michael Krawitz, co-founder of VAMJ. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t start out of the gate with more reasonable limits, however, it is a good starting point. Too many people will still wind up in the illicit market to fill the void created by these unrealistic plant and possession limits.”
Cannabis won’t be completely legal in Virginia on July 1—owning larger amounts of cannabis will still be considered a crime. Under the new law, possessing more than one ounce of pot will be a civil penalty punishable by a $25 ticket, and amounts above one pound will be considered a felony.
Some provisions of the law regarding criminal penalties and retail sales are still subject to change, and will need to be reenacted next year by the Virginia General Assembly. They will also need approval from Virginia’s next governor, who is up for election in November.
VAMJ’s seed giveaway has stirred some controversy, with some advocates criticizing the event as irresponsible given the still-tentative nature of cannabis laws in Virginia. Last week, an organization with a similar name clarified it was not the group behind the seed event.
“Marijuana Justice would never have the caucasity to give away free seeds on opening day of Virginia legalization, especially since it’s not clear in the law,” Marijuana Justice Virginia tweeted on June 25.
Free Cannabis Seeds Attract a Crowd in Rosslyn
This afternoon near the Rosslyn Metro station, Bob Marley was playing and a flag featuring a joint and the words “Come and Take It” was flying.
The event was the legalization of marijuana in Virginia and a giveaway that attracted a line of some 100 people.
Those in line were waiting to receive six marijuana plant seeds — tokens to commemorate the first day of legalized cannabis possession on this side of the Potomac River. The seeds are from Virginia Marijuana Justice, an advocacy group celebrating legalization today with “The Great Commonwealth Cannabis Seed Share.”
Virginians 21 and older can now possess, consume and grow small amounts of the plant, but unless a doctor has signed off on a prescription, there’s no legal way to buy it, the Virginia Mercury reports. Lawmakers aim to begin recreational retail sales in 2024, giving the Commonwealth three years to establish a Virginia Cannabis Control Authority to regulate the market.
Outside the Rosslyn Metro station was one of four locations where volunteers with VAMJ gave out seeds. The Arlington seed share lasted from 12-2 p.m. and among the four sites, more than 20,000 seeds were distributed, said organizer Adam Eidinger.
“We are very happy on this historic day,” Eidinger said. “All four locations in Virginia had long lines and are giving away all the seeds we raised. Authorities were only concerned with large numbers of people, not the cannabis.”
The organization’s celebration started last night on the Key Bridge.
Chinara and Maurice, who only gave their first name, were among the crowd standing in line this afternoon.
Maurice said he was there “to partake in this transition that’s occurring,” saying he is glad “there is more acceptance for things that are natural.”
Despite the crowd’s size, Chinara said the line moved quickly. The R&B and Neo Soul singer-songwriter said she appreciates marijuana because “it makes me feel like I’m able to interact more smoothly with people.”
VAMJ gave out the seeds to people 21 and older with a valid ID. Organizers reminded participants to be patient, let senior citizens go first in line and make friends. They also reminded people that the law only permits four plants in a home.
The giveaway finished about 45 minutes before the thunderstorms rolled in.
Although the mood this afternoon was joyous, advocates say work remains to be done.
Chelsea Higgs Wise, the leader of a parallel Virginia-based group, Marijuana Justice, said the new law has a lot of gaps and she is skeptical that Black and Brown people will actually be treated equally for possessing the plant.
Her group is advocating for next year’s legislature to “repeal, repair and [make] reparations.” It has formed a Legalize It Right coalition to discuss the new Virginian law and how to tackle these goals.
Specifically, the group wants the legislature to remove an open container law that punishes people for possessing the plant in anything but the original manufacturers’ container. The group wants to see public consumption legalized — right now Virginians can only partake at home — and zero tolerance policies on college and university campuses removed.
In addition, Marijuana Justice wants records for marijuana-related crimes expunged and reparations for people arrested and convicted for committing such crimes.
VAMJ also wrote in a blog post that the fight is not over.
“Just because you can grow your own cannabis, doesn’t mean that the war on drugs is won,” the post said. “We still have a lot of work to do to ensure not only local legalization, but legalization across the country, to benefit all interested parties. There are still friends and family members in jail for cannabis in Virginia. We need to demand their immediate release.”