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Virginia’s lawyer basic is inviting state lawmakers to a “Cannabis Summit” subsequent month as speak about advancing marijuana decriminalization and other reforms for the duration of the 2020 legislative session picks up.

Officials from other states that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis will speak at the occasion, as will academics who study the concern.

“This upcoming Common Assembly Session policymakers will be taking into consideration legislation connected to cannabis use in the Commonwealth,” an invitation states. “This summit is developed to superior inform these discussions and present perspectives from states that have implemented related alterations at the state level.”

“The summit will consist of four panels of authorities from about the nation to speak on the following subjects connected to cannabis policy: decriminalization of marijuana, social equity, regulating CBD &amp Hemp goods, pathways towards legalization by means of legislative efforts and other subjects that will superior inform the upcoming legislative function,” reads the invitation sent out by the lawyer general’s workplace, which was initial reported by The Virginia Mercury.

Lawyer Common Mark Herring (D) mentioned final month that the legislature will initial move to pass a cannabis decriminalization bill—something that Gov. Ralph Northam (D) had campaigned on and talked about in his State of the State address.

Lawmakers will then “get to function on a bigger study about how and when we could move toward legal and regulated adult use,” Herring mentioned.

“Criminalizing marijuana possession is not functioning. It is needlessly making criminals, saddling men and women with convictions and costing taxpayers millions every year,” the lawyer basic wrote in an op-ed for the Virginian-Pilot this week. “The social and human charges are tremendous, and the weight of the method falls disproportionately on African Americans and men and women of colour. There are smarter, superior techniques we can manage cannabis and that starts with decriminalizing straightforward possession of smaller amounts, addressing previous convictions and moving towards legal, regulated adult use.”

The possibilities of obtaining cannabis reform policies by means of the Common Assembly substantially elevated immediately after this month’s election, which saw Democrats reclaim handle of each chambers for the initial time in decades.

Accordingly, a lawmaker prefiled a cannabis decriminalization bill this week that would make possession of up to a single ounce of marijuana punishable by a maximum $50 civil penalty.

The announcement of the Cannabis Summit, which will take spot in Richmond on December 11, is a different signal that political help for reforming Virginia’s marijuana laws is robust. And although Northam has not endorsed adult-use legalization, the inclusion of that concern in panel discussions indicates that decriminalization is just the starting of the conversation. Advocates are also pushing the state to expand its restricted health-related cannabis system.

“The lawyer general’s public help for advancing proof-primarily based cannabis policy, coupled with the current formation of the Virginia Cannabis Caucus, set the stage for a robust and unprecedented exploration of actual-planet experiences with decriminalization, legalization and regulation in other states,” Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, told The Virginia Mercury.

NORML honored Herring with its “Vanguard Award” as aspect of its national conference in September.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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