- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced plans to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana statewide for the upcoming 2021 legislative session.

“It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia,” Mr. Northam said Monday in a press release. “Our Commonwealth has an opportunity to be the first state in the South to take this step, and we will lead with a focus on equity, public health, and public safety. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to get this right.”

Mr. Northam identified five principles that the bill must address including: social, racial and economic equity; substance abuse prevention; protections for young people; data collection; and adherence to the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act.

Medical marijuana is already legal in the commonwealth, and the governor signed off on a bill in May to decriminalize simple marijuana possession, which went into effect in July. The legislation also called for creation of the Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group in which state officials are compiling a report due Nov. 30 on the impact of legalizing sale and use of marijuana.

Recreational marijuana has been legalized in more than 10 states and the District of Columbia, and several states also allow commercial sales of the substance.

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