Virginia’s Special Legislative Sessions Considers More Macro and Micro Cannabis Reforms

The special legislative session convened by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam began last week on Tuesday August 18, and among the issues discussed are ongoing changes both big and small to cannabis reform in the state.

For months, advocates have pushed Northam on the issue of cannabis legalization—something Northam has been less vocal about even as he has framed decriminalization of cannabis as a racial equity issue since 2017.

In June, Virginia’s Black Legislative Caucus called for a special session to address criminal justice reform in response to the police killing of George Floyd and that included cannabis legalization: “The Commonwealth is past the point for studies on policing and law enforcement—immediate action must be taken to eliminate law enforcement abuse, prevent and punish racist behaviors, weed out institutional discrimination, and increase accountability at all levels of law enforcement,” the press release from the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus read. A section of the press release labelled, “Continue the Fight for Criminal Justice Reform,” included, “implementing automatic expungement,” “reinstituting parole,” “passing cash bail reform,” “increasing good behavior sentence credits,” and “legalizing marijuana.”

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