Lawmakers hold summit on legalizing marijuana in Virginia

Lawmakers hold summit on legalizing marijuana in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Marijuana is already legal in 12 states, but now Attorney General Mark Herring wants the issue taken up in Virginia.

Herring says the current marijuana laws in the commonwealth just don’t work, and disproportionately target minority groups, which is why he hosted the 2019 Virginia Cannabis Summit on Wednesday morning.

The main talking points of the summit were decriminalizing and possibly legalizing cannabis.

“This is something that I think is long overdue for Virginia," Herring said.

The summit saw local lawmakers, along with regulators, from around the country with tips on how they went about commercializing the plant, such as in places like Colorado.

“We’ve really focused on children, we’ve focused on child-resistant packaging,” said Jim Burack with Colorado Department of Revenue, while giving examples of the regulations.

Others touched on revisiting past convictions in Illinois.

“Representative Kelly Cassidy, the same representative who did the recreational cannabis bill, filed a bill that reduced the punishment of 10 grams or less of cannabis from a Class-B misdemeanor to a fine of $100 to $200,” said Ashley Wright from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

While it was a morning packed with input from industry experts, there were some that were hoping that everyone could get in on that industry – should it become legal.

RachelRamone Donlan with grassroots group Virginia Marijuana Justice shared concerns from mom and pop store owners.

“It would be great here in Virginia to bring income into the community. But while that’s happening, we also want to make sure we have small businesses and micro businesses have a seat at the table," Donlan said.

While any sort of bill would still have to pass int the General Assembly, Herring says the recent elections give him a newfound motivation.

“Virginians are ready for this. Polling shows that the vast majority of Virginians support decriminalization and legalization. This is an area where I think the legislature has been behind where the people are, and I think this is their chance to get this right” he said.

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