RICHMOND, Va. -- Allen Keeton has spent the last few years thinking about how his choices and actions put him behind bars in Chesterfield County.
"At 12 years old, I started using THC. I became dependent," Keeton said.
He said that this dependency is where things went downhill.
"You become dependent because you are using and abusing THC and you wake up irritable and you fall in and are dependent on something because our brain doesn't produce that amount of dopamine. That is where I realize looking back where I fell in," Keeton said.
He said his use of marijuana then turned to other drugs and opioids.
"I didn't know it would open up doors that would lead me into other drugs, but it did," Keeton said.
Now, Keeton is joining Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard and other sheriffs across Virginia to send a message to Governor Glenn Youngkin to sign two bills related to THC. The bills have already passed in the House and the Senate.
If signed into law, the bills would further establish regulations on products and limit the amount of THC allowed in a product to .3%. The law would also restrict products that can get someone high.
"It's widely unregulated and very dangerous for our communities because there are some high concentrations of THC out there in various forms," Keeton said.
Some in the hemp industry fear the legislation would effectively criminalize the plant and remove 99% of products from shelves. They say the products provide quality medicine to the marketplace.
While they disagree with limiting the product amount, they support the bills' provisions that add protections like childproof packaging and testing.
Since the bills have passed both the House and the Senate, they are now left for Youngkin to decide if he'll sign the bills as is, make any amendments or veto them.
Youngkin has until the end of the day on Monday to take any action.
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