As soon as
Governor King Northam learned that marijuana arrests are more common among Blacks than Whites, he announced his support for the legalization of marijuana in the upcoming (virtual) general assembly session beginning in January.
Another motivator in the Governor’s push to legalize pot for adult use is the $300 million in taxes the state could take in annually from the sale of the drug.
“It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia,” said Northam. “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.”
The first state in the south to legalize marijuana! That’s something we can all brag about.
The Governor wants the legislation to address the following five principles for legalization of marijuana for adult use:
- Social equity, racial equity, and economic equity. Marijuana prohibition has historically been based in discrimination, and the impact of criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities as result. A report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) issued today found that Black Virginians are arrested and convicted for marijuana use at more than three times the rate of white Virginians. Legislation should focus on undoing these harms by including initiatives such as social equity license programs, access to capital, community reinvestment, and sealing or expunging records of past marijuana-related convictions.
- Public health. Legislation should include substance abuse prevention efforts in schools and communities.
- Protections for young people. As a pediatrician, Governor Northam will require any legislation include protections for Virginia’s youth, including age limits, mandatory ID checks, and education campaigns.
- Upholding the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. Legislation should be aligned with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act prohibiting indoor tobacco use, which Governor Northam championed as a state senator.
- Data collection. Legislation should ensure Virginia collects appropriate and ongoing information on safety, health, and equity.
From the WashingtonPost.com:
Northam said that he has never personally tried marijuana but that he has come to support legalization after learning about how communities of color are disproportionately affected by its criminalization.
Don’t most criminal arrests disproportionately affect Blacks? Perhaps we should ban any law that might lead to the arrest of “communities of color”.