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.
The only way to stop the harm of marijuana laws against people of color is to repeal the prohibition on marijuana possession and use from the code completely, making it legal for adults to possess less than half an ounce of marijuana. This is the first step in the right direction to eliminating racist drug enforcement.
Make sure Virginia’s legislative leaders hear from you. We have provided leadership office phone numbers below. Your phone call is the most effective way to pressure your elected official to repeal the prohibition on marijuana and stop the harm it causes to communities of color.
Speaker of the House Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (804) 698-1041
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (804) 698-7535
Gov. Ralph Northam (904) 786-2211
1. Call your state leaders with this message:
“My name is [full name] and I live in [city/town]. As a leader of Virginia, you have the power to amend marijuana decriminalization Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 972 to 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.
Additionally, you should remove language from House Bill 972 that 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.
It’s your responsibility to pass racially equitable marijuana reform that does not add to the school-to-prison pipeline and make racial disparities in policing worse. Thank you for listening.”
2. Engage with your leaders on social media:
Your lawmakers use social media to engage with their constituents and you should let them know that you support equitable marijuana reform.
We've prepared some sample tweets to help you get started.
- @GovernorVA @EFillerCorn @DickSaslaw marijuana decrim bills that include civil penalties & criminalize our youth hurt communities of color. Any effort at reform must address racial disparities & put an end to racist police stops! #StoptheHarm @acluva @thcjusticenow
We can't do this work alone, and we appreciate your help.
Your support will help demonstrate to lawmakers the importance of passing legislation that moves us in the direction of legalization and, more importantly, racial equity by simply repealing the marijuana prohibition.