RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Ralph Northam (D) introduced he’ll introduce laws to legalize adult-use hashish in Virginia—a purpose he plans to perform by means of the legislature. In most states, legalization has been authorised by voters on the poll field. Northam, who decriminalized hashish possession in Might, hopes to finalize the brand new legal guidelines earlier than the top of the 2021 legislative session.
“It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia,” Northam stated. “Our Commonwealth has a chance to be the primary state within the South to take this step, and we’ll lead with a concentrate on fairness, public well being, and public security. I look ahead to working with the Common Meeting to get this proper.”
In response to the press launch from Northam’s workplace, any laws should deal with the next key areas:
- Social fairness, racial fairness, and financial fairness. Marijuana prohibition has traditionally been primarily based in discrimination, and the influence of criminalization legal guidelines have disproportionately harmed minority communities as consequence. A report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Evaluate Fee (JLARC) issued as we speak discovered that Black Virginians are arrested and convicted for marijuana use at greater than thrice the speed of White Virginians. Laws ought to concentrate on undoing these harms by together with initiatives reminiscent of social fairness license applications, entry to capital, group reinvestment, and sealing or expunging data of previous marijuana-related convictions.
- Public well being. Laws ought to embrace substance abuse prevention efforts in colleges and communities.
- Protections for younger individuals. As a pediatrician, Governor Northam would require any laws embrace protections for Virginia’s youth, together with age limits, necessary ID checks, and schooling campaigns.
- Upholding the Virginia Indoor Clear Air Act. Laws needs to be aligned with the Virginia Indoor Clear Air Act prohibiting indoor tobacco use, which Governor Northam championed as a state senator.
- Knowledge assortment. Laws ought to guarantee Virginia collects acceptable and ongoing data on security, well being, and fairness.
Northam has the assist of key gamers on his staff together with Virginia Lawyer Common Mark Herring.
“Virginia wants to permit authorized, regulated grownup use of marijuana as a matter of public security, justice, fairness, and financial alternative,” Herring stated. “For too lengthy, the Commonwealth’s strategy to hashish was needlessly and disproportionately saddling Black Virginians and folks of shade with convictions and [the JLARC] report reveals simply how vital legalizing marijuana is for selling fairness in Virginia.”
NORML Improvement Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who additionally serves as government director for the group’s Virginia chapter, expressed assist for Northam’s plan.
“It comes as no shock that Governor Northam is able to assist legalizing the accountable use of hashish by adults,” Pedini stated. “Governor Northam has at all times been considerate in his strategy to hashish coverage. NORML appreciates that social fairness, racial fairness, and financial fairness are amongst his major concerns. We look ahead to persevering with our work with the administration and the legislature to ‘get this proper.’”
Some, together with Virginia Senator Mark Peake (R), consider legalizing hashish could possibly be a step within the mistaken course for Virginia.
“We’re going to have playing and medicines and oh, have a look at all of the tax income we’re getting in by doing immoral issues,” Peake stated. “We’re dropping our ethical compass as a Commonwealth.”
A ballot carried out final yr discovered 61 p.c of Virginia residents assist legalized leisure hashish.