By LeeWEpstein

January 7, 2020

Cannabis decriminalization is top of the 2020 agenda for Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.

In his list of priorities, the governor has indeed placed the decriminalization of cannabis. He intends to make simple possession punishable by a $50 fine without the possibility of imprisonment, although the plan does not specify the amount of cannabis that would determine the threshold between simple possession and heavier penalties.

The proposal also includes a provision for an amnesty for those already convicted of cannabis possession.

The proposal

All Virginians in fact , deserve access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system,”Northam said in a press release. The criminal justice reform bill and budget initiatives will help combat mass incarceration, increase support for citizens also ensure a meaningful second chance for those who have paid their debts to society.

This is a bold step towards a more just and inclusive state, therefore I look forward to working with the General Assembly to push for these measures, said the Governor, who had already campaigned for decriminalization in 2017.

A decriminalization bill was introduced last November in Virginia, although it is not clear whether the governor supports this initiative or wants to pass another bill.

Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who is running for governor in 2021, clearly supported the bill and said it was “clear to me that the time for cannabis reform has arrived.

Besides , the governor said at a press conference that Virginia had not yet reached the point of legalizing cannabis for adults, but noted that decriminalization “is a step”.

However, a proposal for legalization has already been filed for the 2020 legislative session. So , it would allow any adult over the age of 21 to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers, with a 10% tax, the proceeds of which would go to a veterans’ fund, transportation and local municipalities that license cannabis businesses.

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