Senate Democrats on Governor Northam’s Amendments to Cannabis Legalization Legislation

March 31, 2021

RICHMOND, Va.: Today, Governor Ralph Northam released his proposed amendments to SB1406, patroned by Senators Adam Ebbin and Louise Lucas, to legalize recreational adult-use cannabis and establish a regulatory process for retail sale.

Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said: “We are glad to see Governor Northam and the House of Delegates come to the Senate’s position on legalization this summer. We need to begin correcting the wrongs the failed war on drugs has created as soon as possible—and that means cannabis legalization at our earliest opportunity. It is wrong to continue arresting and  incarcerating people, particularly people of color who have been disproportionately affected, for something that will no longer be illegal.

“We are additionally happy to see more funding for law enforcement training and public health education surrounding the future retail sale of cannabis. Fair labor language that has also been added by Governor Northam will help Virginia’s workers who will participate in the future industry are protected to the fullest extent of the Commonwealth’s employment rights.

“Another major part of this legislation is the sealing of records for prior offenders. While the logistical and administrative systems will take some time to create, making sure those who have broken a law—which, pending passage, will no longer be a law—are not adversely affected in future employment, housing, and other opportunities due to a minor cannabis-related criminal record.

“Heading into the reconvened session next week, Senate Democrats look forward to continuing the conversation with the Governor and House of Delegates in order to pass meaningful, landmark legislation—leading Virginia into a more equitable future.”