There are many causes for legalization advocates to really feel assured concerning the outlook for 2021 in Virginia. They’ve assist from the sitting governor, and polls displaying that voters within the commonwealth are able to take the step, too.
Now, they’ve laws to make it a actuality. The brand new invoice comes by way of Democrat Steve Heretick, a member of Virginia’s Home of Delegates who has put up legalization proposals previously. Whereas these earlier efforts have all fizzled out, there’s good cause to imagine that this time can be totally different.
The obvious cause, after all, is the dramatic shift in public opinion towards marijuana legalization in america—a sea change that has introduced an finish to prohibition in each blue and purple states, alike. Polls present that there’s equally strong assist for legalization in Virginia. A 2019 survey from the College of Mary Washington discovered 61 p.c 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 in recent times. In 2019, Virginia Lawyer Basic Mark Herring stated he helps bringing an finish to prohibition; in his announcement, Herring even pointed to the ballot from College of Mary Washington as a cause for Virginia to take the step.
“Virginians know we are able to do higher. It’s time to maneuver towards authorized, regulated grownup use,” Herring stated on the time.
Steps To Reform In Virginia
Late final yr, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced 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 a possibility to be the primary state within the South to take this step, and we are going to lead with a concentrate on fairness, public well being, and public security. I sit up for working with the Basic Meeting to get this proper.”
That announcement got here months after Northam signed into law a sweeping prison justice package deal that included the decriminalization of marijuana. The invoice decriminalized easy possession of pot, as a substitute establishing a $25 civil penalty for the infraction.
“Each Virginian deserves entry to a good and equitable prison justice system,” Northam stated after signing the laws. “These payments fight mass incarceration, improve assist for returning residents, and be certain that those that have paid their debt to society have a significant second likelihood. I thank the Basic Meeting for working with us to construct a extra simply and inclusive Commonwealth.”
All of that implies there’s fertile floor for legalization in Virginia—and provides Heretick hope that 2021 can be his breakthrough.
“This invoice is constructed upon the teachings of different states all through the nation which have enacted related reforms,” Heretick stated, as quoted by WAVY. “With the assist of Virginia’s Lawyer Basic, Mark Herring, and a rising consensus of bipartisan assist from legislators and native leaders across the Commonwealth, and now Virginia Governor Northam and key members of his administration, that is laws which has now matured for enactment.”