Virginia Marijuana Legalization Bill Must Include Equity And Expungements, Lawmakers Say

MJ moment

As lawmakers prepare to take up proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, questions about how to address past racial inequities and prevent new ones from cropping up in a legalized marketplace have figured prominently in early discussions. by Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury Del. Don Scott (D) said it wasn’t just a pungent odor that struck him during a recent visit to the city’s newly opened medical marijuana dispensary. “I saw all that marijuana and I was looking over my shoulder waiting on the feds to run in and get us all because there was so much cannabis in there,” said Scott, a lawyer, who contrasted the scene to a court hearing three days later where he witnessed “a young brother get sentenced to five years for possession with intent to distribute marijuana”—a disparate approach to the drug he called absurd and hypocritical. As lawmakers prepare to take up proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, questions about how to address past racial inequities and prevent new ones from cropping up in a legalized marketplace have figured prominently in early discussions. Democrats who back legalization—including Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who endorsed the concept last month—have framed it as a matter of racial justice, noting the state’s own statistics show Black residents have been 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than White residents despite the two groups using the drug at the same rates. Broadly, the discussions have touched on three main areas: How the state should address past criminal convictions, what steps the state should take to make sure Black entrepreneurs have a chance to make money in the legal marketplace and how the state should spend the estimated $300 million in annual new tax revenue that market is expected to generate. On past criminal charges, there’s already a push…

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Source : Virginia Marijuana Legalization Bill Must Include Equity And Expungements, Lawmakers Say

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