Decriminalizing marijuana possession was a focal point of Ralph Northam’s campaign for Virginia Governor. He’ll soon transition from lieutenant governor to governor following Tuesday’s election. Senate Majority Leader for the GOP, Tommy Norment, announced his plans to introduce decriminalization legislation for first-time offenses.
Another benefit for Northam is that Tuesday’s election brings more Democrats to the House of Delegates, which is a positive thing for Northam’s plan for marijuana law reform, Forbes reports. There are still some pending races to decide, and the Democrats are hoping it doesn’t tip the scales of Democratic control.
In a blog post, Northam wrote, “We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67-million on marijuana enforcement – money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.”
Northam is supportive of expanding Virginia’s medical marijuana law. He’s also interested in legalizing industrial hemp.