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In Letter to Governor, Stoney Calls for Legal Marijuana

Mayor Stoney
Mayor Stoney called on Governor Northam and VA legislators to legalize marijuana statewide during an upcoming special session. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is asking state lawmakers to legalize marijuana during the upcoming special session of the General Assembly.

In a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam and the state’s Democratic leadership on Tuesday, Stoney said legalization is crucial to reforming public safety and increasing racial equity. He also calls for the automatic expungement of non-violent criminal offenses.

“Not only do marijuana arrests comprise a majority of the total arrests in Virginia, but out of those arrests a disproportionate number are of Black people,” Stoney’s letter said.

The mayor also called on legislators to propose specific bills addressing police reform and eviction protections, two issues that have incited protests in Richmond in recent weeks. The letter calls for increased funding for mental health crisis alerts, a statewide database for police misconduct and a statewide eviction diversion program.

Stoney is running for reelection in November’s mayoral race. No legislation has been introduced so far to legalize marijuana during the August special session, although the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus listed it as a legislative priority in June.