Virginia lawmaker backs full cannabis legalisation

A top official has announced his support for recreational cannabis in the US state of Virginia.

Attorney General Mark Herring tweeted: “Virginians know we can do better.

“It’s time to move toward legal, regulated adult use.”

He also retweeted a University of Mary Washington study showing that 61% of Virginians support the legalisation of recreational cannabis, with 34% opposing.

Micheal Kelly, director of communications for Herring, told Capital News Service the attorney general believes: “Virginia needs to decriminalise possession of small amounts of marijuana, take action to address past convictions, and a move towards legal and regulated adult use in Virginia.”

A similar study by the same university in 2017 showed 39% of Virginians supported legalising marijuana for personal use.

Cannabis in Virginia is illegal and possession of even small amounts is a criminal misdemeanour.

Arrests

Almost all marijuana-related arrests last year (90%) were for possession alone, and arrests for marijuana possession have increased 115% from 2003 to 2017, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office.

First time marijuana convictions in Virginia have risen 53% from 2008 to 2017, with enforcement costs estimated to be nearly $81million a year.

Last month the road to full legalisation of marijuana across the US took a step closer to reality as the House of Representatives voted in a bill to make it easier for banks to work with the cannabis industry.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was given the green light by the Democrat-controlled House.

The bill is designed to smooth the way for banks to work with marijuana companies, many of which are ‘unbanked’ and only transact with cash or cryptocurrencies.