Virginia AG Mark Herring supports push to legalize pot, independent investigation into death of Donovon Lynch

Virginia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring sat down with 10 On Your Side to discuss the push to legalize marijuana and last week’s violence at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

Independent Investigation

Herring said he supports calls for an independent investigation into the death of 25-year-old Donovon Lynch last Friday, saying he hopes it restores trust in law enforcement within the community.

“It hopefully will be one that the public can have confidence in and that it is as open and transparent as possible,” he said. “It is so important for the public to have confidence in law enforcement and an outside investigation offers the best likelihood of that happening.”

Lynch was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer during a violent night at the Oceanfront. A separate shooting that same night also took the life of 28-year-old Deshayla Harris.

Virginia Beach officers on scene say Lynch brandished a weapon when approached by police. The body camera of the officer who fired at Lynch, however, was turned off for “unknown reasons.”

The absence of body camera footage sparked calls from community members and activists for an independent investigation into the incident, even after Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate asked for the Virginia State Police to take over the investigation into the police shooting.

Several lawmakers on Thursday are also putting pressure on the attorney general to start an investigation into the shootings.

Virginia Marijuana Possession

Herring also said he supports the recent push from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to legalize marijuana possession by July of this year, instead of by 2024.

He said it’s important to expedite cannabis reforms, including legalization, because of the negative impact current marijuana legislation has on Black and brown Virginians.

Marijuana convictions disproportionately impacted Virginians of color, which he said is why speeding up the timeline to legalize it is so important.

“There are some reports of data that show even with decriminalization that Black Virginians were still getting hit with civil fines and citations at a disproportionately higher amount,” said Herring. “So, I personally favor legalization as early as we can.”

He hopes legalization will reduce fines and convictions for marijuana possession and use mainly felt by communities of color.

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