Gov. Northam Pushes to Legalize Marijuana in Virginia

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Gov. Northam Pushes to Legalize Marijuana in Virginia

If Gov. Ralph Northam gets his way, Virginians will soon be able to enjoy legal marijuana.


This week the Northam Administration outlined legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. If enacted, this law would impose a 21% tax on marijuana products and establish a process for those who were affected by marijuana laws in the past could gain entry into the legal marijuana system.


Eleven states have legalized the possession and use of marijuana for recreational purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Most of the legalization efforts succeeded through ballot measures approved by voters, but state legislators are beginning to embrace this cause, too.


Supporters of legalization say that marijuana prohibition hurts minority communities, giving many young men a criminal record and hurting their chance of success later in life. They say that legalizing and regulating the drug will keep people out of jail, with the taxes on marijuana products being used for health care and other government services. Opponents of legalization contend that marijuana is a gateway drug. They argue that legalization will lead to increased use of marijuana, which will have significant harms for society.


With both houses of the Virginia General Assembly in Democratic control, the prospects for marijuana legalization look good in that state. The governor's measure has been endorsed by the legislative black caucus, among other groups. 


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