PORTSMOUTH, VA- Delegate Steve Heretick joined calls today encouraging Governor Northam’s administration to enact legalization of marijuana by the end of 2021. The Governor is expected to make recommendations in the coming days on legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year that would legalize adult consumption, but makes no provisions for legal distribution until 2024.
JANUARY 2021 BREAKING NEWS!!!! Delegate Heretick has introduced HB1815 to once again try to legalize marijuana in Virginia. Contact your legislators at the link above and tell them to co-sponsor and support HB1815!!!!
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF DELEGATE HERETICK'S EFFORTS
Having long been an advocate for reforming marijuana laws, Delegate Steve Heretick was the first legislator to introduce legislation to legalize marijuana in Virginia for adults 21 years of age or older. Listen to his announcement in January 2019 of his legislation:
2019 UPDATE: Marijuana Legalization was defeated on a 6-2 vote in subcommittee. CLICK HERE to see the vote.
2020 UPDATE: Steve once again introduced legalization in the form of House Bill 269. Despite the change in leadership, it was once again killed in a subcommittee, this time with an unrecorded voice vote. CLICK HERE to read about HB269.
However, in 2020 some important reform was moved forward. Steve's bill to decriminalize marijuana (HB265) was rolled into another bill and passed and will become law on July 1, 2020. Simple possession of marijuana for personal use by an adult 21 years of age will only be a civil fine instead of a criminal offense. Also, Steve's bill HJ130 also passed, which will set up a comprehensive study of legalization around the country to prepare Virginia to move forward in the near future. Armed with that study, Steve will once again put forward a full legalization bill in 2020.
READ DELEGATE HERETICK'S JANUARY 2019 PRESS STATEMENT REGARDING HIS LEGALIZATION LEGISLATION:
“I am proud today to offer for the first-time legislation to legalize marijuana for consumption by adults 21 years of age in the state of Virginia,” said Delegate Steve Heretick. Delegate Heretick, a Democrat who represents parts of Norfolk and Portsmouth, has been an advocate for marijuana reform since taking office in 2016. House Bill 2371 would legalize marijuana for purchase and consumption by adults 21 years of age for medical or recreational purposes.
"The time has come for adults to have the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to consume marijuana in the privacy of their homes," said Delegate Heretick.
“We have been working diligently since July 2018 with the Division of Legislative Services to study the models in other states that have moved forward with legalization. After many drafts and re-drafts, we have settled on a final bill that considers all the ramifications this would have and adjusts for the problems other states have encountered. This is a good product that is a result of many months of careful consideration that included consultation with prosecutors and law enforcement across the state,” said Delegate Heretick.
The bill would set up a regulatory framework that would allow for the cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution of marijuana and its products throughout the Commonwealth to adults 21 years of age or older. It would allow the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to issue licenses for cultivation and retail distribution of marijuana as well as provide for limited home cultivation for personal use.
Delegate Heretick also has introduced an alternative bill to decriminalize marijuana (HB2079) as he has done every session since being elected in 2015. That bill would get rid of criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana and replace it with a small civil fine. Last session the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law Subcommittee killed Heretick’s bill on a 7-1 vote.