RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — When Democrats take control of the Virginia legislature in January, it’s possible the party will decriminalize or even legalize marijuana.
Both of which Attorney General Mark Herring strongly supports.
Herring is set to host a “cannabis summit” in conjunction with the Virginia Cannabis Caucus next week.
The summit will be held Wednesday, Dec. 11 and will involve policy-making stakeholders in Virginia, including legislators, state agencies and law enforcement, Herring’s office wrote in a news release.
The summit will center on policy and feature experts from state attorneys general’s offices, state agencies and legislative operations in states where cannabis has been legalized.
Cannabis policy experts will also be at the summit to speak.
It will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Patrick Henry Building at the State Capitol.
While the nationwide debate continues about whether states should decriminalize marijuana and legalize and regulate use of the substance, Herring has pushed to reform cannabis laws.
“I’ve seen that criminalizing marijuana possession is not working,” he said.
10 On Your Side spoke to Herring Thursday about what he hopes to accomplish at the summit.
“I think it’s really an opportunity to bring folks together to get their questions answered and to address any concerns they may have,” Herring said.
Herring has said there is an unnecessary negative impact from criminal convictions for possession of marijuana, “the expense and social costs of enforcing the current system, and the disparate impact on African Americans and people and communities of color.”
He said they now face tremendous consequences that are unfair.
In the last decade, the number of first-time marijuana convictions in Virginia has risen 53 percent, from 6,533 in 2008 to 10,000 in 2017, the release said. Arrests for marijuana possession have also increased, from around 9,000 in 1999 to nearly 29,000 in 2018.
Virginia spends more than $80 million each year in criminal enforcement of marijuana laws.