Lt. Gov. of Virginia calls for decriminalization of Marijuana

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on February 23, 2017.

Lt. Gov. of Virginia Ralph S. Northam on Monday called for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in the state, while writing a column about various aspects of criminal justice, titled “A More Fair And Just Virginia”, that posted on an online portal.

“As a doctor, I like to make the point to people, over 100 of the medicines that we use on a daily basis come from plants,” Northam said.  “So I think we need to be open-minded about using marijuana for medical purposes. By decriminalizing it, our researchers can better study the plant so doctors can more effectively prescribe drugs made from it.”

Northam, a Democrat, points out that current enforcement are expensive and disproportionately jails to African-Americans.

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color,” Northam said. “One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement — money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.”

As a doctor, I’m becoming increasingly convinced by the data showing potential health benefits of marijuana, such as pain relief and drug-resistant epilepsy," Northam said. Veterans suffering from a brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and people with multiple sclerosis find it helpful, he viewed.

In the US, twenty eight states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Northam was a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, until he took leave early this year to run for Governor. He is running against Democratic Tom Perriello, a former congressman, as well as republicans Frank Wagner, Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart.

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