The legal professional basic of Virginia held a cannabis summit on Wednesday, with representatives of states which have legalized marijuana sharing their insights as lawmakers within the Commonwealth put together to push reform laws within the coming session.
This occasion got here someday after a lawmaker prefiled a invoice to legalize marijuana for grownup use and develop the state’s present restricted medical hashish program.
The occasion featured panels on marijuana decriminalization, social fairness, public well being, hemp, CBD and making a pathway for eventual legalization. The objective was to reply coverage questions and inform laws, which Lawyer Common Mark Herring (D) hopes will begin with decriminalization and expungements and later adult-use legalization.
Herring: “I don’t imagine Virginia’s present system of needlessly criminalizing hashish is working. The unfavorable penalties of the present method fall disproprtionately on African People and different individuals of colour.”
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) December 11, 2019
“I don’t imagine that Virginia’s present method of criminalizing hashish is working,” Herring mentioned in his opening remarks. “It’s needlessly creating criminals and burdening Virginians with convictions.”
Right now we’re bringing collectively legislators, stakeholders, and coverage specialists to plot a course for a better, fairer, extra simply hashish coverage in VA. For me, which means decriminalizing now, resolving previous convictions, & transferring to authorized, regulated grownup use.https://t.co/aqWxQCVPIg
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) December 11, 2019
“The human and social prices are monumental, along with the tens of millions of it prices Virginia taxpayers. And the unfavorable penalties of the present method fall disproportionately on African People and other people of colour,” he mentioned. “It’s clear to me that the time for hashish reform has come. Justice calls for it. Virginians are demanding it. And I’m going to assist make sure that we get this proper.”
Watch video of the Virginia Hashish Summit beneath:
Representatives from Colorado and Illinois mentioned regulation enforcement and fairness in regulated marijuana markets.
The prospects of passing reform measures drastically elevated in Virginia after November’s election, which noticed Democrats reclaim control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the primary time in many years. Herring mentioned the timing is true to “plot a course for a better, fairer, extra simply hashish coverage” within the state.
Sen. Dave Marsden (D), co-founder of the legislature’s just lately established Hashish Caucus, mentioned on the summit that guaranteeing that the authorized market is equitable is paramount.
.@SenDaveMarsden, who co-founded the brand new Hashish Caucus, says specializing in fairness will probably be essential. “We will’t substitute a civil course of for a prison one and never anticipate it to result in disparities,” he says of decriminalization, noting how individuals of colour nonetheless impacted most.
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) December 11, 2019
“We will’t substitute a civil course of for a prison one and never anticipate it to result in disparities,” he mentioned.
“Following a number of years of forming consensus round medical hashish merchandise, now we have to be able to take motion within the upcoming legislative session to additional reform our legal guidelines on this area,” he mentioned in a press release. “This effort will embody a extra strong medical hashish program and Lawyer Common Herring’s summit is a giant step in guaranteeing we’re educated on the problem and ready to do that proper.”
“Virginia is prepared for evidence-based reform and that’s what we’ll present.”
Del. Stephen Heretick (D) mentioned the summit “is a good alternative for me and my fellow legislators to be taught from the experiences of different states as we think about the right way to create extra truthful, simply, equitable, and efficient hashish legal guidelines right here in Virginia.”
Decriminalization is the primary proposal on the agenda when the subsequent session begins, the legal professional basic mentioned. That might fulfill a marketing campaign promise of Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who ran on the issue in 2017 and talked about in his State of the Commonwealth address this yr.
“It’s time for public coverage to meet up with public opinion, and NORML applauds Lawyer Common Herring for his efforts to foster and advance evidence-based hashish legal guidelines,” Jenn Michelle Pedini, government director of Virginia NORML mentioned. “We look ahead to supporting the legal professional basic and the Virginia Hashish Caucus of their work reforming marijuana legal guidelines for a safer Commonwealth.”
Whereas Northam hasn’t voiced assist for leisure legalization, Herring mentioned final week that Wednesday’s summit is one useful resource that may help the state move toward comprehensive reform.
“Criminalizing marijuana possession will not be working.” Lawyer Common @MarkHerringVA mentioned he’ll host a #cannabis summit to advance decriminalization in Virginia. #CheddarLive pic.twitter.com/ecB4BSQo5w
— Cheddar (@cheddar) December 3, 2019
“Based mostly on my conversations, he helps decriminalization,” Herring, who can also be operating for governor in 2021, mentioned. “Like lots of people, I feel they’d prefer to get extra details about what legalization and what regulated, adult-use would seem like.”
A invoice to decriminalize marijuana and make possession of as much as one ounce punishable by a most $50 civil penalty was prefiled in the legislature last month.
This newest legalization bill, launched by Del. Lee Carter (D), will probably be a heavier elevate. It could permit adults 21 and older to own and buy hashish from licensed retailers, and it will impose a 10 p.c tax, income from which might go towards a veterans fund, transportation and native municipalities that permit marijuana companies to function.
“Whereas a majority of Virginians agree with Lawyer Common Herring that marijuana must be authorized for accountable use by adults, it might take a bit extra work to persuade the Virginia Common Meeting to ship such a invoice to the governor’s desk,” Michelle Pedini informed Marijuana Second. “Todays summit is a vital, and historic, step towards that objective, and NORML is proud to be part of it.”
Photograph courtesy of Nicholas C. Morton.