Virginia Groups Push Governor To Amend Marijuana Decriminalization Bill On His Desk

Virginia Groups Push Governor To Amend Marijuana Decriminalization Bill On His Desk

The governor of Virginia is being pulled in two directions by drug policy and civil rights reform groups over a marijuana decriminalization bill that lawmakers sent to his desk last month. One group, Virginia NORML, is seeking to add an emergency clause to the legislation so that its provision take effect as soon as possible, rather than on July 1 as stated in the bill’s current text. The other, ACLU’s Virginia chapter, is asking Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to request that the legislature make a series of large-scale amendments to the bill before he signs it. Those changes would remove language allowing law enforcement to prosecute people for intent to distribute for possession of less than one ounce, remove certain penalties against juveniles caught possessing cannabis and encourage minority participation in a working group that lawmakers have tasked with studying broader legalization and issuing recommendations. The ACLU’s proposals were previously considered and rejected by lawmakers, and so their prospects are dubious, insiders say. The group had continually urged lawmakers to defeat the decriminalization proposal throughout the legislative session, arguing that much broader reforms are needed and going so far as to say that the incremental approach would be worse than the state’s status quo of total cannabis criminalization. “The fact is marijuana laws overwhelmingly target people in Black and Brown communities,” the ACLU chapter said in a letter to Northam. “The legislation you’ve been asked to sign will only contribute to that inequality. The war on drugs has always been…

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Source : MJ moment
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