SWVA commonwealth attorney reacts to acceleration of marijuana legalization

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam amended legislation to accelerate the legalization of marijuana...
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam amended legislation to accelerate the legalization of marijuana possession and home cultivation in the state to July as opposed to 2024.(WAFB)
Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 2:26 AM EDT
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SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA (WJHL) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called for an acceleration of marijuana possession legalization from 2024 to just three months from now, but local law enforcement questions enforcement.

CBS affiliate WJHL reports Gov. Northam’s amendments to his marijuana legalization bill would allow those over the age of 21 to have up to one ounce of cannabis without the intent to distribute, and to grow marijuana at home – as soon as July 1st.

“We’re putting public safety in jeopardy for political points and that’s sad. It’s dangerous, it’s sad and Virginia deserves better,” said Chuck Slemp, the commonwealth attorney for Wise County and Norton.

Slemp supports marijuana legalization, including Gov. Northam’s goal of eventually allowing marijuana retail sales regulated by the state, but allowing people to possess and grow it the summer causes him to be concerned.

“I supported it with the caveat that we could tax it, we could regulate it and we can make sure it’s safe for people to consume and that it’s difficult for those under 21 to get a hold of,” he said.

Slemp said his focus and resources have been turned to other drugs like methamphetamine.

The retail component of the marijuana legislation is not expected to be legalized until 2024, but the possession and growing portion of the bill could pass as early as next month when state legislators head to back Richmond.