Virginia Governor Signs Bill Protecting Medical Cannabis Patients from Discrimination

Virginia Governor Signs Bill Protecting Medical Cannabis Patients from Discrimination

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has taken a significant step towards protecting the rights of medical cannabis patients in the state by signing a bill that shields state employees from discrimination based on their status as registered patients. This legislation covers a wide range of public sector workers, including firefighters, emergency service providers, teachers, and civil servants.

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Dan Helmer, addresses a gap in previous legislation that inadvertently left public sector employees vulnerable to discrimination. Helmer, speaking to Virginia Business in February, highlighted the need to rectify this oversight, noting that previous efforts had failed to extend protections to these essential workers.

JM Pedini, NORML development director and executive director for Virginia NORML, emphasized the collaborative effort between advocacy groups and legislators to ensure the passage of this crucial amendment. Pedini underscored the importance of protecting the employment rights of individuals who serve their communities selflessly, stating that the legislation “will protect the jobs of these heroes who risk their lives to keep Virginians safe.”

In addition to signing the bill protecting medical cannabis patients, Governor Youngkin also approved administrative improvements to the state’s medical cannabis program. These changes include extending the maximum expiration date for cannabis products from six to twelve months after registration, pending stability testing. Furthermore, the legislation establishes confidentiality measures for certain records and information related to the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority’s board of directors.

However, Youngkin did exercise his veto power on a bill aimed at safeguarding the parental rights of lawful cannabis consumers. The proposed legislation sought to amend the state’s child neglect statute to prevent the use of cannabis by a parent or guardian from being automatically considered evidence of a crime. Despite this setback, advocates remain committed to advancing policies that protect the rights of cannabis consumers and their families.

As Virginia continues to navigate the complexities of cannabis legalization and regulation, these legislative developments represent important strides towards ensuring equity and fairness for all individuals involved in the medical cannabis program.

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