Northam comments on marijuana decriminalization study

Today, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam submitted comments to the Virginia State Crime Commission, calling for the decriminalization of marijuana.

ralph northamAt the Virginia General Assembly’s request, the Virginia State Crime Commission is conducting a study on the topic of decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana. Dr. Northam previously announced his support of decriminalization of marijuana.


Northam letter

Chairman Bell and Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission, I was pleased by the Virginia State Crime Commission’s announcement that it would study the decriminalization of marijuana, and I write to you today to share my comments on this issue and its impact on our Commonwealth.

Over the years, I have had the honor and privilege of working with each of you to improve the health and safety of our Commonwealth. While we have made some progress reforming our criminal justice system, Virginia’s marijuana enforcement and sentencing laws remain costly and disproportionately harmful to communities of color. Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement – enough to open up another 13,000 pre-K spots for children. African Americans are nearly 3 times as likely to get arrested for simple possession of marijuana and sentencing guidelines that include jail time can all too often begin a dangerous cycle of recidivism.

I have called for the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, and I urge this Commission to consider the positive impact reforming our marijuana enforcement would have on the Commonwealth.

Thank you for your thoughtful attention to this matter as you conduct this study. Please know that my door is always open, and I hope that you will contact my office if I can be of further assistance.