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New laws beginning in Virginia on July 1

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 9:00 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - July is just around the corner and then some new laws will take effect in Virginia

After passing through the General Assembly and getting Governor Ralph Northam’s signature, Virginia will see changes from marijuana to voting at the polls.

Beginning July 1, Virginia will expand the Virginia Human Rights Act which will prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. This now appears alongside others like race, religion, sex, age, and sexual orientation.

After July 1, absentee ballots will no longer need a witness’ signature, but only during public health emergencies like COVID-19.

Electoral boards or general registrars of a county or city will have the option to provide absentee voting in person on Sundays. Several bills also made drop boxes, postage-paid envelopes for returning ballots by mail and curing of absentee ballots permanent.

When driving, be aware of two new bike laws: one allows bicyclists to ride two abreast in a travel lane and the other making drivers change lanes when passing bicyclists, when they can do so safely, instead of just moving over.

And one you’ve probably heard a lot about -- marijuana.

In July, Virginians 21-years-old and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but if they have more than that but less than a pound, they will get a $25 fine.

Home cultivation of up to four marijuana plants will be allowed as long as they are not visible from the public eye and precautions are taken to keep them out of the hands of minors.

Past misdemeanor marijuana convictions will be automatically sealed and expunged.

Consuming marijuana in public, on school grounds, and while driving will still be illegal. With this legalization comes funding for public health and safety campaigns, as well as training for law enforcement officers to prevent and recognize impaired driving.

The laws will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. July 1.

For more information on laws passed at the 2021 General Assembly, click here.

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