On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia stated that the south would be the first to legalize marijuana, pledging to move forward with the cannabis measure in 2021.
Earlier, the governor had long declined to take a stand on broader adult-use legalization but changed last week, calling out on the state lawmakers to legalize cannabis in the coming legislative session. He campaigned on cannabis decriminalization.
In an interview conducted on Friday, Northam spoke more and revealed his thinking on legalization, expanding his ideas for social equity and the desire to protect minors away from cannabis. He is still undecided as to whether he will allow residents to farm their marijuana from home. In almost all the states where cannabis is legal, residents can grow marijuana for personal use.
Two expansions of the policy to decriminalize marijuana possession have been passed and signed by the governor. One of the laws stipulates that no police officer may lawfully stop, search, or seize any person, place, or thing based on the odor of marijuana. Also, any evidence found as a result shall be admissible in any court hearing.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) found the change to legalize cannabis would reduce the number of arrests, increase tax revenue, and help repair past drug war damages. It could see an 84 percent reduction in marijuana-related arrests and an economic boost creating employment.
Secretaries of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health, and Human Resources, Public Safety, and Homeland Security, among other agencies, have formed a working group to study the potential implication of the legalization.
The governor stated: ‘’Virginia will be the first in the South, but we tend to be leaders, and now that’s what we’re going to do this year. And we are going to do it the right way.’’
Legalization in the state of Virginia already shows positive prospects. Low crime rate and high employment rate are just some of the positive outcomes.