Virginia General Assembly poised for historic votes to legalize marijuana and end the death penaltyPosted by On


“One emotionally charged debate at a time,” quipped Garren Shipley, spokesman for the House GOP leadership.

Lawmakers will have more time to complete work on those and other topics after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday called a special session to extend the current session, which had been scheduled to adjourn on Feb. 11, roughly to the end of the month.

The state Senate voted on Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, with all 21 Democrats in favor while 17 Republicans opposed and one abstained. That chamber will take up marijuana legalization on Friday as well.

Northam has made both issues a priority, and Virginia would be the first of the former Confederate states to take either action.

Northam’s plan to legalize marijuana came after two state studies showed that Virginia could reap enormous revenue from a regulated cannabis industry — some $300 million per year, by one estimate.

He proposed a two-year process that would see sales begin in 2023 under the supervision of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, with retail licenses distributed by a system that ensures participation by people of color. Revenue would be earmarked for education, substance abuse treatment and efforts to mitigate the negative effects of how drug laws have been enforced in communities of color.

The versions up for debate Friday in the House and Senate are slightly different from the…

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“One emotionally charged debate at a time,” quipped Garren Shipley, spokesman for the House GOP leadership.

Lawmakers will have more time to complete work on those and other topics after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday called a special session to extend the current session, which had been scheduled to adjourn on Feb. 11, roughly to the end of the month.

The state Senate voted on Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, with all 21 Democrats in favor while 17 Republicans opposed and one abstained. That chamber will take up marijuana legalization on Friday as well.

Northam has made both issues a priority, and Virginia would be the first of the former Confederate states to take either action.

Northam’s plan to legalize marijuana came after two state studies showed that Virginia could reap enormous revenue from a regulated cannabis industry — some $300 million per year, by one estimate.

He proposed a two-year process that would see sales begin in 2023 under the supervision of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, with retail licenses distributed by a system that ensures participation by people of color. Revenue would be earmarked for education, substance abuse treatment and efforts to mitigate the negative effects of how drug laws have been enforced in communities of color.

The versions up for debate Friday in the House and Senate are slightly different from the…



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