Police State/Civil Liberties

Northam moves to legalize small amounts of marijuana this summer

By Mel Leonor, Richmond Times Dispatch

Gov. Ralph Northam is moving on Wednesday to speed up marijuana legalization in Virginia, backing changes to the legislation that would do away with penalties for possession of an ounce effective this summer.

Northam will also seek to accelerate spending on public education campaigns and training for law enforcement related to the health and safety risks of marijuana.

These changes and more come in the form of proposed amendments to legislation approved by the General Assembly last month, which would have legalized marijuana in 2024, in tandem with the launch of a legalized market. The assembly reconvenes April 7 to consider Northam’s proposed amendments to and vetoes of the legislation.

Civil rights groups and some Democrats in the House have argued for weeks that continuing to penalize Virginians until the state can profit from marijuana sales is morally corrupt; and that it runs counter to statements by the party that addressing racial inequities in the enforcement of marijuana laws is the primary motive for the legislation.

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