The Virginia State Capitol Building.

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Virginia Legalization Bills Introduced & Gov. Calls for Decriminalization

This week marked the introduction of two legalization bills in the Virginia state House of Delegates. Meanwhile, Gov. Northam expressed his continued support for decriminalization.

Full story after the jump.

A potential whirlwind of cannabis reforms is brewing in Virginia, where state lawmakers introduced two separate adult-use legalization bills this week while Gov. Ralph Northam (D) repeated his endorsement for decriminalizing the plant in his State of the Commonwealth speech on Wednesday night.

Pending legalization bills

Virginia’s legislative session officially convened on Wednesday, January 9 and there are already several bills aimed at major cannabis reforms.

House Bill 2371, introduced on Tuesday by Virginia Del. Steve Heretick (D), aims to fully legalize and regulate the consumption and distribution of cannabis for adults who are 21 or older. The bill would grant cannabis licensing rights to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“The time has come for adults to have the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to consume marijuana in the privacy of their homes,” Del. Heretick said in a press release on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Democratic Del. Lee Carter introduced House Bill 2373, which is similarly aimed at the legalization of adult-use cannabis.

 

Governor calls for decriminalizing

During his election campaign, Gov. Northam repeatedly expressed support for decriminalizing cannabis. He reiterated his support for ending cannabis prohibition last night towards the end of his annual State of the Commonwealth address.

“We shouldn’t use valuable law enforcement time, or costly prison space, on laws that don’t enhance public safety,” Northam said. “So I’m proposing that we decriminalize simple possession of marijuana.”

“Current law imposes a maximum 30 days in jail for a first offense of marijuana possession. Making simple possession a civil penalty will ease overcrowding in our jails and prisons and free up our law enforcement and court resources for offenses that are a true threat to public safety.” — Gov. Ralph Northam

Currently, several decriminalization bills are pending in the state legislature. Similar bills were introduced last year but failed to come to any fruition.

The 2019 Virginia legislative session is scheduled to last 45 days, ending on February 23.

(H/t to Marijuana Moment’s Tom Angell and Kyle Jaeger)

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