PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s secure to say the brand new legislation in Virginia that legalizes possession of small quantities of marijuana is a piece in progress.
With a view to get the legislation via the Common Meeting, legislators needed to compromise to get one thing permitted.
“The illegality of marijuana was the product of bias towards African People and Hispanics,” mentioned Norfolk Assistant Commonwealth’s Lawyer Ramin Fatehi.
Think about this: In Norfolk in 2016 and 2017, 80% first offense marijuana possession arrests have been African People.
“We knew it was unhealthy, however we didn’t realize it was that unhealthy,” mentioned Fatehi.
So, in 2019, Fatehi wrote Norfolk’s coverage to not prosecute easy possession of marijuana, and Norfolk turned the primary locality in Hampton Roads to do this.
“Commonwealth’s Lawyer Greg Underwood set the imaginative and prescient and total goal and I wrote the memo… and the brand new legislation is a piece in progress,” Fatehi mentioned.
Fatehi has discovered some inconsistencies within the new marijuana legislation.
“Issues like you possibly can possess marijuana, you can use marijuana, and you’ll give marijuana so long as it’s a reward with no cash in alternate, however you can’t purchase marijuana for leisure functions till 2024,” he mentioned.
We identified to Fatehi meaning individuals would possibly go to the unlawful markets to purchase marijuana.
“Sure, in out-of-state locations and transport it from different states,” he defined.
However you can’t legally do this.
“That’s proper. That’s the inconsistency, that’s proper,” he mentioned.
You too can develop 4 crops beneath the brand new legislation, however you can’t purchase the seeds.
Fatehi acknowledges the present legislation might encourage some to interrupt the legislation,
“You possibly can’t purchase the seeds or marijuana from any person who continues to be committing a crime right here in Virginia,” he mentioned.
Virginia might love marijuana, however nationally, Uncle Sam doesn’t, however has allowed states to experiment with the legal guidelines,
“The Federal Authorities treats marijuana as a schedule I managed substance, which is essentially the most harmful substance you can classify beneath DEA guidelines,” he mentioned.
That may be a large inconsistency that forces individuals like Chris Mendoza to pay 100% for prescribed hashish merchandise on the Columbia Care Medical Hashish Dispensary in Portsmouth.
Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Seaside) and all different Republicans voted towards the marijuana invoice.
“I’ve an actual downside with the brand new legislation… Individuals can’t use their medical health insurance for in search of CBD oil proper now, and that is one thing our army veterans want for PTSD. And hashish is confirmed to be very useful… and the federal authorities must again off on any regulation round banking and areas affiliated with it,” Davis mentioned.
That brings us again to prosecutor Fatehi.
“We can have a hands-off strategy with marijuana possession, as long as individuals are utilizing the marijuana responsibly and constantly with the legislation,” he mentioned.
Fatehi will deal with marijuana like alcohol.
We requested whether or not he would cost individuals with crimes for the seeds or transporting them illegally throughout state traces, or having greater than the permitted 4 crops.
“I’ve a troublesome time seeing doing that for somebody who is doing that moderately and just isn’t a vendor. The marijuana vendor is completed case by case,” Fatehi mentioned.
As we’ve reported, Del. Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth) was speaking marijuana lengthy earlier than any of his Common Meeting colleagues.
“I’ve been engaged on this for 3 phrases now,” he mentioned.
Heretick says it’s not an ideal legislation, however for now, it’s the perfect they might get via the Common Meeting.
“There are a lot of conflicts. For instance, starting July first of this 12 months, it’s authorized to own marijuana. It’s authorized to develop 4 crops per family, however it isn’t authorized to purchase or promote marijuana,” he mentioned.
The authentic plan was to legalize marijuana in 2024, however that may imply three extra years of prosecuting individuals for possession, which unfairly targets African People.
“So, I believe the Northam administration was prepared to compromise and produce it again to July first of this 12 months with a view to get that assist to get the invoice throughout the end line,” he mentioned.
There’s additionally a re-enactment clause forcing the Common Meeting to return again in January to work out the remainder of the main points of the legislation that has created these inconsistencies,
“It requires the Common Meeting to return and have a look at a few of the laws. Not all of it, however we’re going to be sure that two constant Common Assemblies have the chance to have enter into how the method evolves,” he mentioned.