Tell Virginia's leaders to enact racially equitable marijuana reform


Marijuana laws overwhelmingly target Black and brown communities.

Current marijuana decriminalization legislation (House Bill 972 and Senate Bill 2) will increase racially disparate policing and stick young people with harsher punishments than adults for simple marijuana possession.

We are urging Virginia's leaders – Gov. Ralph Northam, Speaker of the House Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw – to amend decriminalization legislation to address racial disparities by eliminating penalties and provide services to our children rather than punishments.

Tell Virginia's leadership that racially equitable marijuana reform should support our youth instead of criminalizing them, remove policing discretion, not include a civil penalty, and not recriminalize communities of color impacted most by the war on drugs. They have the power to make changes – make sure they hear from you.

Message Recipients:
Del. Eileen Filler
Sen. Richard L. Saslaw
Gov. Ralph Northam

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Your Message

As a leader of Virginia, you have the responsibility to pass racially equitable legislation.

You have the power to amend marijuana decriminalization bills that repeal the prohibition on simple marijuana possession and use to stop the harm to Black and brown communities caused by the continued imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

Current “decriminalization” bills (House Bill 972 and Senate Bill 2) as proposed will likely increase racial disparities and will do the following:

• Not address racial disparities and will likely lead to an increase of racial disparities

• Eliminate your right to legal counsel

• Add collateral consequences from a civil penalty that can take away the opportunity to join the military, receive a scholarship, get certain jobs, and keep or obtain legal immigration status.

• Not address racially disparate police enforcement

• Recriminalize people with civil fines and fees

Additionally, HB 972 will punish youth by forcing them to enter the criminal system, taking away their driver’s licenses for at least six months, and requiring drug testing.

Marijuana laws are disparately enforced against Black people at every level of the criminal legal system, starting with law enforcement interactions. In Northern Virginia, Black people are up to 10 times more likely than white people to be arrested for simple marijuana possession, and in other parts of Virginia, such as in Hanover County, Black people are 20 times more likely.

I urge you to use your power to stop the harm done to communities most impacted by the war on drugs. Amend the language in House Bill 972 and Senate Bill 2 to not include civil penalties, criminalize our youth, or create new crimes.


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