Never Thought We'd See the Day: A Southern State Legalizes Marijuana

(Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

If you live in Virginia and you’ve been wanting to light up, I’ve got news that’ll make you…light up.

And to be clear, I’m not talking about Virginia Slims.

For all those dreaming of doobies and jonesin’ for joints, a new drug dealer’s comin’ to town.

Get ready for a Democratic Dr. Feelgood — the left-wing state legislature has legalized marijuana.

As reported by The Daily Wire, VA’s House of Delegates voted 48-43 to pass the bill, which was approved by the Senate 20-19.

Not a single Republican voted in favor.

The bill will now go to Gov. Ralph Northam, who’s pro-legalization.

The move’s sure to be a moneymaker.

Politico deals the details:

The bill sets a 21 percent excise tax on marijuana and allows municipalities to add an additional 3 percent tax on retailers on top of existing sales taxes. Marijuana tax revenues would be used to fund pre-K education, substance use disorder treatment programs and other public health initiatives.

They’re hoping for the high of equity:

A portion of revenues would also go toward a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, which would provide resources such as scholarships and workforce development for communities disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement.

House Majority Leader Charniele Herring called it a “justice bill.”

And sponsor Sen. Adam Ebbin is psyched. He told The Associated Press, “It’s been a lot of work to get here, but I would say that we’re on the path to an equitable law allowing responsible adults to use cannabis.”

That path’s gonna take a minute: An effective change of the law — and the start of retail sales — won’t happen ’til 2024.

#Government

Back to justice, to hear Del. Charniel tell it, the revolution’s gonna help erase the rigors of racism:

“This moves us in a…direction to strike down and to address those institutional barriers, and over-policing, over-arrests, over-convictions of African Americans who do not use marijuana at a higher rate than our white counterparts, but [who] seem to get the brunt of criminal convictions.”

Sen. Jennifer McClellan also wants to smoke out prejudice:

“If we have already made the decision that simple possession should be repealed, we could have [sped up the date for legalization] today and ended the disproportionate fines on communities of color. Let’s be absolutely clear — this bill is not legalization, and there are a lot of steps between here and legalization.”

Additionally, in lifting a ban on the often-smuggled substance, perhaps the Donkey Party will help put a stop to mules.

The D’s have certainly been on a cannabis kick.

From the AP:

The bill was a top priority for Democrats, who framed legalization as a necessary step to end the disparate treatment of people of color under current marijuana laws. But talks between Democrats in the House and Senate grew tense in recent days, and a compromise version of the massive bill did not emerge publicly until late Saturday afternoon.

The legislation references that newly-defined term we all keep hearing: “communities”:

The bill calls for dedicating 30% of marijuana tax revenue to a “Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund.” That money would be used “to help communities that have been historically over-policed for marijuana crimes, with funds going toward scholarships, workforce development and job placement services, and low- or no-interest loans for qualified cannabis businesses.

Virginians who have a marijuana-related conviction, have family members with a conviction, or live in an area that is economically distressed could qualify as social equity applicants who would get preference for licenses to get into the marijuana marketplace as cultivators, wholesalers, processors and retailers.

Of course, Virginia’s turn is nothing new — 15 other states have chosen to regulate recreational use.

But its method is a bit unique: Only Illinois and Vermont have lifted pot prohibition via the legislature.

Ultimately, here’s the big news: The Old Dominion State makes history as the first Southern state to make the devil’s lettuce lawful.

So once it’s in full effect, when on holiday in the homeland of Hanson and Mark Hamill — if you’re lookin’ to relax — just kick back with something leafy and legal.

It’s gonna be dope.

-ALEX

 

See more pieces from me:

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Find all my RedState work here.

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