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Mayor Stoney calls on General Assembly to legalize marijuana during a special session

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Posted at 1:08 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 13:08:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is calling on the Virginia General Assembly to legalize marijuana during a special session on August 18.

Stoney made the request in a letter Tuesday to Governor Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw.

"I am writing on behalf of the City of Richmond to urge you to consider a number of programs and policies to build equity and strengthen public safety in the Commonwealth of Virginia," the mayor wrote.

Stoney's first proposal is legalizing marijuana and establishing a tax system for recreational use.

"Not only do marijuana arrests comprise a majority of the total arrests in Virginia, but out of those arrests a disproportionate number are of Black people," said Stoney. "Let's not forget the negative impact an arrest and conviction can have on someone's life, especially when it comes to employment and housing opportunities."

The mayor says he recommends the revenue be used to provide needed funds for Virginia's at-risk add-on, a program which allocates additional money to low-income students.

"Our children need support now more than ever, and this restorative justice approach provides that care," the mayor added.

The mayor's request comes after the General Assembly decriminalized marijuana earlier this year.

In addition to legalizing marijuana, the letter calls for the General Assembly to:

  • Allow automatic expungements.
  • Provide funding for mental health, specifically for crisis alerts.
  • Establish a statewide law enforcement officer misconduct database.
  • Launch a statewide eviction diversion program.

Read the full letter below: