Victoria Cobb, President
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today, Governor Northam, a pediatric neurologist, ignored overwhelming evidence that harmful teenage cannabis use is on the rise, and announced his recommendation that simple possession and home growing marijuana should become legal starting July 1, 2021.

Action: Urge Your Delegate and Senator to Reject the Governor’s Proposed Amendments

This year the General Assembly passed legislation, SB 1406 (D-Ebbin and D-Lucas) and  HB 2312 (D-Herring), legalizing simple possession of marijuana (up to one ounce) and allowing the commercialization (e.g., licensing, cultivation, sales) for adult recreational use beginning January 1, 2024.  In a press release, the Governor announced several changes to the legislation including one that accelerates the legalization of simple possession (without the intent to distribute) from 2024 to July 1 of this year.

If the General Assembly agrees to the Governor’s changes, an individual could possess up to one ounce of marijuana and not be subject to criminal or civil penalties.

Among the changes recommended  by Governor Northam, households could start growing up to four plants beginning on July 1, 2021, provided the plants are “labeled with identification information” and are kept “out of sight from public view, and out of range of individuals under the age of 21.”  Clearly the Governor is ignoring the fact that violent and nonviolent crime rates have increased in states following marijuana legalization, and that home cultivation is nothing more than an invitation for more robberies or worse.

Governor Northam’s changes also authorize the new Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) to revoke a company’s business license if they fail to pay the prevailing federal wage, classify more than 10 percent of their employees as independent contractors, or "interfere with union organizing efforts," which appears to bypass Virginia’s long-standing “Right to Work” law.

Despite these bad changes, it appears the Governor did manage to keep in place the re-enactment clause pertaining to the commercialization provisions that will require General Assembly approval again in 2022, as well as the option for localities to opt-out through a referendum that must be conducted by December 1, 2022.

Governor Northam is claiming these changes will ensure Virginia becomes the 15th state to legalize marijuana in a way that “promotes public safety and public health.” And in true big-spending liberal fashion, he believes that pouring thousands, or even millions, into a “public health education” program will make that happen.   

But let’s get real: For those pushing marijuana legalization, this has never had anything to do with public health or safety. If it were, they obviously wouldn’t be doing it in the first place!  Nor has it been about social justice or correcting the inequities within minority communities. It’s always been about generating more tax revenue to finance the ever-expanding state bureaucracy, creating massive fortunes for those who would use marijuana (like gambling) to prey on our most vulnerable citizens, and catering to a generation increasingly void of moral standards.

The General Assembly will reconvene for the annual “Veto Session” on April 7 to consider changes to all bills amended by the Governor, which gives you one last opportunity to contact your representatives on this issue.

Action: Urge Your Delegate and Senator to Reject the Governor’s Changes to the Marijuana Bill

The Family Foundation
707 E. Franklin Street  | Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 343-0010 | vafamily@familyfoundation.org

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