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Gov. Ralph Northam Explains Driving Force Behind His Push To Legalize Marijuana in Virginia

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is explaining the driving force behind his proposal to legalize marijuana in his state.

CNN’s John Avlon touched on the contradiction between state law and federal law regarding marijuana legalization. He noted it is still classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic along with heroin.

He suggested it creates “legal jeopardy” for residents of Virginia to exercise their rights. Avlon asked Northam, “What’s your take on that, and governor should that federal classification be changed?”

Northam replied, “Absolutely, it should be, but Virginia is proud. We’ll be the 16th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.”

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The governor called recreational use of the drug “an equity issue.”

Northam explained the reason why he is pushing his proposal, “We know that Blacks and Whites use marijuana at the same rate, but Blacks are three to four times more likely to be arrested and convicted. So, this is wrong, and we’re going to right a wrong.”

He has called on the General Assembly to quickly legalize marijuana, making it permissible for adults to possess up to one ounce of the drug on July 1, rather than waiting until 2024.

Northam is making the request through a proposed amendment to the General Assembly’s legalization bill passed last month.

The proposals put forth by Northam would empower the Cannabis Control Authority — an agency designed to oversee the marijuana industry — as well as establish a faster way to remove marijuana-related incidents from criminal records and allow up to four plants for home cultivation per household.

When the General Assembly reconvenes on April 7, it will take up the proposals.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill to legalize recreational use of the drug on Wednesday for adults over the age of 21, making it the 15th state to do so.

Cuomo said in a statement, “This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits.”

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He added, “This was one of my top priorities in this year’s State of the State agenda and I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis.”

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