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Hesitancy, heated disputes could hamper Virginia’s marijuana legalization plans

Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, described a measure to legalize marijuana as the biggest bill he’s seen in his 30 years in Richmond. Deeds and other Democrats have expressed support for legalization, but the legislation faces many unresolved questions and disputes, with about two weeks left on the clock.

How soon should the state stop punishing people for possessing small amounts? What new crimes make sense in a legalized market? What is the best way to ensure people affected by the so-called war on drugs have a role in the legalized market? And, what of the millions in new revenue?

The weight of these questions is giving some Democratic lawmakers pause, resulting in calls from senators to delay work on parts of the bill.

Significant rifts persist between the two chambers. Senate Democrats support the legalization of simple possession this summer to address the overcriminalization of people of color; the House has not. House Democrats want to ban seed-to-storefront licenses out of fear that “big marijuana” would trounce small businesses in the market; the Senate does not.

Republicans have broadly opposed legalization. [Read more at Richmond Times-Dispatch]

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