Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond, Virginia is asking on state leaders to legalize hashish throughout a particular session of the legislature slated for later this month. In a letter Stoney despatched to Gov. Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw on Tuesday, the mayor wrote that legalizing marijuana and enacting different coverage reforms he’s recommending would “help increase equity and inclusion in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

“Not only do marijuana arrests comprise a majority of the total arrests in Virginia, but out of those arrests a disproportionate number are of Black people,” Stoney wrote within the letter. “Let’s not forget the negative impact an arrest and conviction can have on someone’s life, especially when it comes to employment and housing opportunities.”

Stoney referred to as on the governor and lawmakers to cross laws that might legalize marijuana and set up an excise tax that might be used for a state program that gives companies for low-income college students.

“Our children need support now more than ever, and this restorative justice approach provides that care,” he wrote.

The Richmond mayor’s letter additionally referred to as for laws that might enable for the automated expungement of sure felony convictions, writing that “Virginia is one of 10 states that does not offer record closure for adult convictions or automatic expungement for those who are eligible, making it one of the nation’s least forgiving states when it comes to providing second chances.”

“Studies have found that an expungement can produce significant economic, social, and public safety benefits for the individual and the community as a whole. Individuals who have had their record expunged see opportunities and income increase, which has shown to result in lower rates of recidivism,” he added.

Mayor Calls For Social Reforms

Stoney additionally referred to as for elevated funding for psychological well being companies, significantly applications that mix public well being companies with police response for disaster intervention. He additionally prompt that lawmakers set up a statewide database to doc misconduct by cops and the sharing of information by varied legislation enforcement businesses to make sure that downside officers aren’t rehired elsewhere after being fired or disciplined.

Stoney’s letter additionally included a request for laws that might enact a statewide eviction diversion program modeled after one introduced in Richmond in January of final yr. Under that voluntary program, professional bono attorneys are used as in-court mediators to barter settlements between tenants and landlords, and monetary help is supplied to tenants who meet the {qualifications} of this system.

The eviction diversion program additionally presents monetary literacy schooling to tenants, referrals to related social companies, and a cost plan to assist be certain that hire is paid on time. Since this system started offering companies in October 2019, 147 Richmond households have been capable of keep away from eviction.

Stoney wrote that the bundle of proposals, if enacted, would “reform public safety, increase equity, and assist Virginia localities in lifting up their most underserved communities.”

“Virginia should take full advantage of the opportunity and do whatever we can to support our kids,” he mentioned.

Stoney’s bid to legalize marijuana goes additional than the motion taken by legislators earlier this yr, when laws to decriminalize hashish was handed. Under that legislation, which went into impact in July, possession of as much as one ounce of marijuana is now a civil violation carrying a nice of as much as $25 on the primary offense. Before that, possession of any quantity of marijuana, even only one joint, might be punished with a nice of as much as $500 and 30 days in jail.

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