There are loads of causes for legalization advocates to really feel assured concerning the outlook for 2021 in Virginia. They have assist from the sitting governor, and polls exhibiting that voters within the commonwealth are able to take the step, too.
Now, they’ve laws to make it a actuality. The new invoice comes through Democrat Steve Heretick, a member of Virginia’s House of Delegates who has put up legalization proposals prior to now. While these earlier efforts have all fizzled out, there’s good motive to imagine that this time will likely be totally different.
The most evident motive, after all, is the dramatic shift in public opinion towards marijuana legalization within the United States—a sea change that has introduced an finish to prohibition in each blue and crimson states, alike. Polls present that there’s equally sturdy assist for legalization in Virginia. A 2019 survey from the University of Mary Washington discovered 61 % of adults within the commonwealth are in favor of marijuana legalization.
Emboldened by these relaxed public attitudes, outstanding Democratic Virginia lawmakers have likewise embraced legalization lately. In 2019, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring stated he helps bringing an finish to prohibition; in his announcement, Herring even pointed to the ballot from University of Mary Washington as a motive for Virginia to take the step.
“Virginians know we can do better. It’s time to move toward legal, regulated adult use,” Herring stated on the time.
Steps To Reform In Virginia
Late final yr, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam introduced plans to introduce laws of his personal to legalize marijuana.
“It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia,” Northam stated in his November announcement. “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.”
That announcement got here months after Northam signed into regulation a sweeping legal justice bundle that included the decriminalization of marijuana. The invoice decriminalized easy possession of pot, as a substitute establishing a $25 civil penalty for the infraction.
“Every Virginian deserves access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system,” Northam stated after signing the laws. “These bills combat mass incarceration, increase support for returning citizens, and ensure that those who have paid their debt to society have a meaningful second chance. I thank the General Assembly for working with us to build a more just and inclusive Commonwealth.”
All of that implies there’s fertile floor for legalization in Virginia—and provides Heretick hope that 2021 will likely be his breakthrough.
“This bill is built upon the lessons of other states throughout the country which have enacted similar reforms,” Heretick stated, as quoted by WAVY. “With the support of Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, and a growing consensus of bipartisan support from legislators and local leaders around the Commonwealth, and now Virginia Governor Northam and key members of his administration, this is legislation which has now matured for enactment.”