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November 16, 2020

Governor says Virginia will act to legalize marijuana

File Photo
A physician, Mr. Northam says he never has used marijuana.
We are going to move forward with legalizing marijuana in Virginia. I support that and am committed to doing it the right way . . . . It’s not going to happen overnight.
— Gov. Ralph Northam
By Ned Oliver
and Graham Moomaw

Virginia Mercury

Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday he plans to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana when the General Assembly convenes in January, setting the state on a path to become the first in the South to allow recreational use of the drug.

“We are going to move forward with legalizing marijuana in Virginia,” Mr. Northam said. “I support that and am committed to doing it the right way . . . . It’s not going to happen overnight.”

The governor, a physician who says he’s never used the drug, said he supports legislation that would lay out an 18- to 24-month timetable for the state to establish and regulate the new marketplace.

His administration has been studying the issue and many details remain unresolved, but Mr. Northam said he intends to emphasize public health protections and social equity issues as the state moves forward.

“Marijuana laws have been based originally in discrimination and undoing these harms means things like social equity licenses, access to capital, community reinvestment and sealing or expunging people’s prior records,” he said.

Mr. Northam’s comments came on the same day as state analysts presented a sprawling study of the potential impacts of marijuana legalization in Virginia and things lawmakers should take into account as they discuss it.

> Report at bottom of story

The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission study found that legalization could generate more than $300 million per year in tax revenues by the fifth year of operations while reducing marijuana arrests by 84 percent. Legalization could also create more than 11,000 jobs, the study found, but most would be lower-paying positions in retail, cultivation, packaging and security.

If Virginia chooses to legalize adult use of marijuana, it would likely take at least two years to put a regulatory structure in place and begin licensing companies to operate in the state, according to the study.

While the study found that very few people are jailed solely for marijuana possession, JLARC staffers found that 120,000 Virginias might benefit if the General Assembly paired legalization with a one-time expungement of pot charges that wouldn’t be crimes anymore. More than half of those people would be Black Virginians, who are arrested for marijuana at a much higher rate than White Virginians, according to the study.

The study outlined numerous steps Virginia policymakers could take to promote social equity, including giving preferential consideration for minority entrepreneurs and workers from communities that have been disproportionately affected by drug prohibition. Preventing a vertically integrated industry dominated by large, well-established marijuana companies, the study suggested, could also promote opportunities for Virginia-based small businesses.

“As new states legalize, your homegrown businesses, pardon the pun, are going to be competing against these businesses that are big, multi-state operators,” said JLARC legislative analyst Mark Gribbin.

JLARC Report- Key Considera... by Fauquier Now

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Sammy · November 17, 2020 at 9:54 am
angrybob -- blame dems for delay? reps block for decades and now you blame dems? reps will continue to stand in the way, thank dems we are even discussing this .. what a piece of work you've become .. once funny, now not
Savefauquiercounty2019 · November 17, 2020 at 7:47 am
Teachers,be cohesive and push to have these funds to be allocated directly to teacher`s salary increases. They know women aren't cohesive and they take advantage of you because if you voice your opinion they treat you like a beech or silence you. They know most 80 percent of teachers bear children and they need to support your day care issues too.
Jennie · November 17, 2020 at 12:50 am
I can't say that I disagree with the legalization. There are many medicinal uses for Marijuana. I for one have partaken and to be honest it helped me after I had a stroke (at the age of 44), due to a congestive heart defect. I couldn't speak for days and my mind was erratic. This helped me slow down to get my thoughts together and later my words. I do however have questions, "it would likely take at least two years to put a regulatory structure in place". This is exactly why most of the things that the government touches(oversee) turns into sh*t. I wonder which government official will get a say in exactly who gets the license and what that official will get in return. I would like to see funding for drug rehab centers to help with the addictions of our fellow citizens.
Twilava · November 16, 2020 at 7:02 pm
Well why not, just another stab. You are an IDIOT.
Mark House · November 16, 2020 at 6:35 pm
AngryBob - I remember the 70's when planes would fly over looking for pot growing. In the Midwest they used to have a thing called "Idle Acres" where you let you land go idle for a year so the soil could recover from planting corn. Marijuana was introduced into the Midwest during World War II for the hemp to make rope for the ships (called ditch weed because the THC content is very low but makes great rope). It would spread like crazy in these "idle acres" because the birds love the seeds.

The Government fellas came out to our farm one time and told my folks they had to chop down and burn the plants. My Dad asked why. They said it's illegal. He just shook his head, went and got the corn knife, whacked it down, and we burned it. Crazy Government he said, it's a weed, how can weeds be illegal?!
AngryBob · November 16, 2020 at 3:37 pm
Two years to set up regulation. Typical democrats. IT'S A PLANT!! You just plant a seed in your garden and it grows! This does not require government intervention!
Cammie Rodgers · November 16, 2020 at 3:28 pm
After the last 4 years we could use a mellower populace. It would also be beneficial for people with cancer and other medical conditions to alleviant pain.
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