In a recently-issued letter to the Virginia State Crime Commission, Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam calls for decriminalization of weed. This isn’t the first time he’s been vocal about taking a different approach to cannabis.
In fact, he expressed his support for decriminalization in February of this year. And judging by his most recent letter, he isn’t ready to back down yet.
Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam Calls For Decriminalization of Weed
Northam is currently Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor. He is also the state’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Before moving into politics, Northam was a pediatric neurologist at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.
As a doctor, Lt. Governor Northam didn’t ignore the science backing the benefits of cannabis use. He said he came across patients that used marijuana.
The patients he found using cannabis included veterans suffering from brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the very least, he acknowledged that nothing drastically negative can come from a small amount of weed.
In February, Northam wrote about the need to decriminalize cannabis. He said that the legal status of marijuana is leading to a disproportionate number of African-Americans being arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia.
In fact, he cites a 2010 ACLU study that highlighted the fact that African-Americans were nearly three times more likely to be arrested for the possessing cannabis than white people.
In his more recent letter, he brought up the same statistics. He also added that marijuana enforcement in Virginia is “costly and disproportionately harmful to communities of color.”
He also argued that jail time for small amounts of marijuana “can all too often begin a dangerous cycle of recidivism.”
Better Ways to Spend State Money
The Lt. Governor also noted that $67 million is spent on marijuana enforcement in Virginia alone. He said that money could be better spent elsewhere.
Northam added that the money spent on weed enforcement could open another 13,000 pre-school centers for children.
“Where there is evidence-based data that suggests that marijuana is useful, then I think we should be open-minded,” he wrote.
Fortunately, the Lt. Governor isn’t the only politician in the state interested in cannabis’ potential. Senator Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, was also concerned about people receiving criminal records for small amounts of weed.
Additionally, Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria also proposed turning possession of small amounts of weed from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine.
Final Hit: Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam Calls For Decriminalization Of Weed
With his most recent letter, Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam calls for decriminalization of weed for the second time.
Thanks to his presence, Virginia now has a doctor serving as Lt. Governor and running for Governor. He’s seen patients use cannabis to decrease their suffering and has said there is little to no harm. On top of all that, he is fighting to decriminalize weed.
With other politicians on his side, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam is getting closer to legalizing weed in Virginia. When that happens, plenty of money will be freed up for use in better places like schools.