04/07/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/08/2021 06:57
Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
~ Amendment moves effective date of the legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana up to July 1, 2021 ~
RICHMOND (April 7, 2021)- Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the below statement following the General Assembly's passage of an amendment that moves the effective date of the legalization of small amounts of marijuana up to July 1, 2021. Today, the General Assembly voted to change the effective dates for House Bill 2312 (Majority Leader Charniele Herring) and Senate Bill 1406 (Senator Adam Ebbin) be moved up from January 1, 2024 to July 1, 2021.
'Decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana last year was such an important first step, but, unfortunately, while the penalty was lessened, the disparate impact on Black and brown Virginians remained,' said Attorney General Herring. 'In order for us to truly address the disproportionate impact Virginia's marijuana policies have on Black Virginians and communities of color, we must have full legal, regulated adult use in the Commonwealth. Accelerating the effective date of legal possession of small amounts of marijuana means that we will not force Black Virginians and communities of color to suffer under this disparate impact any longer. I am incredibly proud to have played a role in helping Virginia get on a path towards legalization and I want to thank all the partners and advocates who have helped us in this important endeavor.'
According to 2020 data, more than half of all marijuana-related charges in Virginia, at least 2,397, were against Black Virginians, while Black Virginians only make up about 20 percent of the Commonwealth's population.
During the 2021 General Assembly Session, Attorney General Herring helped successfully move Virginia towards legal, regulated adult use of cannabis, after he become the leader on cannabis reform in Virginia following his call for decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, action to address past convictions, and a move towards legal and regulated adult use. In his call for cannabis reform, he cited the unnecessary negative impact of a criminal conviction for possession, the expense and social costs of enforcing the current system, and the disparate impact on African Americans and people and communities of color. Attorney General Herring reiterated his call for reform when data from 2018 showed a record number of arrests for marijuana possession. In December 2019, Attorney General Herring held a cannabis summit for policymaking stakeholders in Virginia that focused on policy and included experts from attorneys generals' offices, state agencies and legislative operations in states that have legalized cannabis, as well as cannabis policy experts.
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