Virginia Proposes Plan To Legalize Cannabis
After five states voted in favor of legalizing cannabis in this month's elections, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he would introduce a law legalizing marijuana for adults in the state. The move comes as the government prepares to publish a report on the impact of cannabis legalization in the states. “Its time we legalized marijuana in Virginia”, Northam said in a news release, according to the Washington Post.
Although we are the first state in the South to take this step, the Commonwealth has acted as if we were moving at the same pace as the rest of the United States in legalizing cannabis.
Earlier this year, Northam signed a bill that effectively decriminalized marijuana in Virginia, but said Monday that “more reforms are needed to repair the damage caused by the failed and ongoing war on drugs”. The governor's office said it would work closely with lawmakers to introduce a legalization bill in the next legislative term, though it warned that the process would not take place overnight and predicted it would take about 18 to 24 months. “I look forward to working with the General Assembly to get this right”, Northam said.
Northam made clear that his support for a cannabis legalization law depends on protecting young people. He said marijuana laws were based on reversing the harm that was meant to shut people's ancestors off and drive them out of their communities.
Senator Adam Ebbin, a Virginia Democrat who supported this year's decriminalization bill, said he was "thrilled" by Northam's support for the issue and was already working on a legalization bill for the next session. “This is an important, and positive development”, Ebbin said. Herring tweeted that Virginia will allow legal and regulated use of marijuana for adults, as announced in a letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II.
Governor Northam has always thought for himself about our approach to cannabis policy, and the support of this administration will make a law that will be complicated, have many moving parts, and will face a short legislature this year. Senator John Pedini, a Fairfax County Democrat, was a member of the Northam Working Group on the Marijuana decriminalization and was not surprised by the governor's support for adult cannabis use. In a press release, Peddini said, "I am not shocked or surprised by the governor's support for adult cannabis use, but rather I am very pleased”.
“We look forward to continuing our work with the government and legislature to do the right thing”. Pedini said: "NORML appreciates the governor's support for adult cannabis use, which was our main consideration”.