Virginia Governor’s Budget Funds Marijuana Expungements And Preparation For Legalization

MJ moment

The governor of Virginia on Wednesday unveiled a budget proposal that “lays the groundwork to legalize marijuana” by including millions of dollars to support efforts to expunge cannabis convictions as well as steps to set up the state to eventually implement a system of commercial sales. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) had campaigned on merely decriminalizing possession, but he publicly backed broader legalization of marijuana for adult use last month, just as a legislative commission issued recommendations on how to most effectively enact such a system. Now he’s making clear his intent to get a legalization bill passed in 2021 with his fiscal proposal. It calls for $5 million to fund expungement efforts in fiscal year 2021 and another $20 million in 2022. That includes “automatic expungement of misdemeanor marijuana convictions,” according to a summary. The governor is also proposing extending “a line of credit” to regulators at the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority “to help pay for the establishment of the Commonwealth’s governance and oversight of the legal, adult-use cannabis industry.” “We know that laws to ban marijuana historically were based in discrimination, and criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minority communities,” Northam said in a speech announcing the budget. Clearing past cannabis convictions is a “priority that needs action in this session,” he said. Both the House of Delegates and Senate passed separate expungements bills during a special session this year, but negotiators failed to work out a deal on a unified approach. “Reforming our marijuana laws is one way to ensure that Virginia is a more just state that works better for everyone. It also will eventually bring in tax revenue that can be used to further make sure we are providing equitable access to opportunity,” he said. “For example, just half of the potential annual revenue could pay…

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Source : Virginia Governor’s Budget Funds Marijuana Expungements And Preparation For Legalization

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