Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and the Virginia Cannabis Caucus – a group of pro-legalization lawmakers – are hosting a Cannabis Summit next week to discuss the state’s policies including recreational legalization, hemp, law enforcement, and social equity.
The summit will be held just over two months after Herring tweeted support for legalization which linked to a University of Mary Washington poll that found 61 percent of Virginians supported the reforms. In a June op-ed in the Daily Press, Herring said prohibition “is needlessly creating criminals and burdening Virginians with convictions” and called for broad decriminalization.
Last year, legislative committees in both the House and Senate killed two decriminalization bills. Those bills were supported by the Northam administration but the Virginia Association of Commonwealth Attorneys stood opposed.
On Tuesday Herring said in an interview with Cheddar that he hoped the summit would push lawmakers to approve, at least, a decriminalization bill. He said he “hoped” lawmakers and stakeholders could come away with “a concrete” plan for recreational use.
“I’m bringing experts in, I’m bringing folks from other states that have already taken these steps so that they can share the experiences that they’ve had with decriminalization and legalization,” he said, adding that Democrats control the levers of power in the state – those previous bills were quashed by Republican-led committees.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) included cannabis law reforms in his campaign platform and has been a vocal proponent for decriminalization since his election. There is currently a legalization bill in the Legislature, sponsored by Del. Steve Heretick (D) who is one of the chairs of the caucus.
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