The race is on to see which state will be the next to legalize cannabis, and Virginia is among the most likely. Lawmakers in several states have kicked off their legislative sessions with legalization bills, and Virginia Rep. Steve Heretick did the same this week with HB 1815. The bill’s introduction follows Governor Ralph Northam’s calls for legalization last month, as he unveiled his budget. At the time, Northam said, “We know that laws to ban marijuana historically were based on discrimination, and criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities. Virginia has studied the experience of other states—including taxation, banking, criminal justice, licensing, and regulation. Our path forward will lead with social equity, public health, and public safety. This session is the time to get this done.” Virginia has been on a steady path toward legalization since 2019 when state Attorney General Mark Herring pushed for decriminalization with an eye toward adult use. In 2020, Gov. Northam signed decriminalization legislation, and a cannabis legalization workgroup conducted a study on full legalization, including sales. By year’s end, as the work group’s recommendations were published, in a nearly 500-page Marijuana Legalization Report, Northam called on lawmakers to legalize cannabis in 2021.
Nushin Rashidian, Cannabis Wire, 01/07/2021 19:00:00