Virginia Governor Pushes Marijuana Decrim In State Of The Commonwealth Speech

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Virginia’s governor used his annual State of the Commonwealth speech on Wednesday night to call on lawmakers to enact marijuana reform.

“We need to take an honest look at our criminal justice system to make sure we’re treating people fairly and using taxpayer dollars wisely,” Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said. “This means decriminalizing marijuana possession—and clearing the records of people who’ve gotten in trouble for it.”

Northam, who ran on support for removing criminal penalties for possession during his 2017 election campaign, announced last week in a separate policy speech that cannabis decriminalization is at the top of his criminal justice reform agenda for 2020.

“Studies show marijuana arrests have disproportionately impacted people of color—this legislation clears the records of individuals who have been previously convicted of simple possession,” Northam’s administration said in a document outlining his legislative goals. 

In addition to treating cannabis possession with $50 fine, the agenda also calls for removing driver’s license suspensions as a punishment for drug offenses.

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