As of July 1 (yesterday) we are living under some new laws in Virginia. When the General Assembly takes new actions, they most often apply in the summer following the session when they were passed.
Among the most important–to my way of seeing things–is a new attitude toward hemp, an agricultural product of immense value that has been directly and unfairly linked with recreational marijuana for many years. The value of hemp has been demonstrated over and over, but legislatures have been hesitant to legalize it because of its association with pot.
The Virginia Mercury reports, “The financial implications are huge, especially for southern Virginia farmers already cultivating tobacco, which requires much of the same infrastructure (curing barns, anyone?) and soil conditions as hemp.” Donald Trump’s tariff threats are giving Virginia tobacco farmers uncertainty and hemp can help solve that dilemma and get some tobacco off the market. Says the Mercury: hemp “can net anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000 per acre, compared to $800 to $1,000 from tobacco.”
Here is the Mercury’s more complete report.
Otherwise, there’s plenty to consider. Below is Del. Adam Eban’s synopsis.
- Drivers’ licenses will no longer be suspended solely for nonpayment of court fines and fees. The licenses of 627,000 Virginians that are currently suspended for nonpayment will be restored.
- You will not be allowed to talk on your cell phone in road work zones.
- Courts can now dismiss a summons issued for an expired vehicle registration if a defendant can provide proof of compliance prior to their court date.
- Localities are now authorized to regulate the operation of electric scooters.
- Local school systems are now allowed to start school up to two weeks prior to Labor Day.
- There is a new education grant program has been established that should help generate 25,000 graduates in technology.
- The legal age has risen from 18 to 21 (except for military personnel, who apparently don’t find smoking unhealthy).
- Employers will no longer be allowed to require employees to sign nondisclosure agreements that forbid the worker from sharing details of sexual assault claims.
- Starting in the 2020 general election, voters may cast their ballot up to 10 days before election day without any excuse.
You can get a more detailed look at Virginia’s new laws here.