Virginia: Governor Says “The Time Has Come to Legalize Marijuana”

Northam says legalize it

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam today publicly announced his support for legalizing the adult use of marijuana in Virginia.

In a press release, the Gov. stated: “It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia. Our Commonwealth has an opportunity to be the first state in the South to take this step, and we will lead with a focus on equity, public health, and public safety. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to get this right.”

In recent months, the Governor has worked with lawmakers and reformers to adopt a series of statewide marijuana policy reforms. Lawmakers this spring decriminalized the personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, reducing the penalty to a $25 civil fine. They also amended and expanded the state’s nascent medical cannabis access law. Most recently, Gov. Northam signed legislation into law severely limiting the ability of police to engage in warrantless searches solely on the basis of the smell of marijuana.

Commenting on the Governor’s announcement, NORML’s Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini said, “It comes as no surprise that Governor Northam is ready to support legalizing the responsible use of cannabis by adults.” Pedini, who also serves as the Executive Director of the state chapter, Virginia NORML, and is a member of the governor’s Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group added: “Governor Northam has always been thoughtful in his approach to cannabis policy. NORML appreciates that social equity, racial equity, and economic equity are among his primary considerations. We look forward to continuing our work with the administration and the legislature to ‘get this right.”

Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring also voiced his support for legalization, tweeting, “Virginia needs to allow legal, regulated adult use of marijuana as a matter of public safety, justice, equity, and economic opportunity.” Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe similarly expressed support for legalization, tweeting: “I’m with you. Let’s do it.”

For additional information on Virginia’s marijuana law reform efforts, contact Virginia NORML.