Apparently decriminalization is not good enough for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who called for the Virginia legislature to legalize marijuana when it holds a special session on August 18. The state's General Assembly passed a decrim bill in April that went into effect on July 1.
But Stoney, 39, wants to go further than simply allowing Virginia residents to possess an ounce of pot without fear of being arrested. In a letter addressed to Gov. Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, Stoney wrote on August 11:
"Earlier this year the General Assembly decriminalized marijuana. However, we need to take it a step further to legalize the sale of marijuana in the Commonwealth. Not only do marijuana arrests comprise a majority of the total arrests in Virginia, but out of those arrests a disproportionate number are of Black people. Let’s not forget the negative impact an arrest and conviction can have on someone’s life, especially when it comes to employment and housing opportunities... I implore you to use the collected revenue from this new tax to fund the at-risk add-on, a program which allocates additonal dollars to low-income students. Our children need support now mor than ever and this restorative justice approach provides that care."
Stoney also noted his support for automatic expungement in the letter, stating:
"Allowing the expungement of misdemeanors and nonviolent felony convictions for certain offenses is one of many steps needed to build wealth and empower Black and brown Virginians. Studies have found that an expungement can produce significant economic, social and public safety benefits for the individual and the community as a whole. Individuals who have had their record expunged see opportunities and income increase, which has shown to result in lower ratees of recidivism."
Prior to being elected mayor in 2016, Stoney was Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia under then Gov. Terry McCauliffe.
In 2019, Stoney protested President Trump's appearance at the 400th anniversary commemoration of the founding of Jamestown.
He's described by Politico as "the black, millenial mayor who tore down his city's white monuments." Post George Floyd's death, he ordering the removal of Confederate statues on Richmond's Monument Ave.
Stoney's running for reelection in November.
A Brief Look at Richmond
The capitol of Virginia was also the capitol of the Confederacy and home to a large slave trading market. The fall of Richmond in 1895, during which 25% of the city was burned down, signaled the end of the Civil War.
Half of Richmond's 204,000 residents are black. Forty percent are white. A quarter of the city's residents live below the poverty line, making Richmond the second poorest city in the state following Roanoke.
Famous People from Richmond
• Musicians: Wes Borland, D'Angelo, Walter Davis Jr., Al Foster, Major Harris, Airto Lindsay, Aimee Mann, Jason Mraz, Dave Schools, Lonnie Liston Smith
• Actors: Warren Beatty, Shirley MacLaine
• Athletes: Arthur Ashe, Jackie Bradley Jr., Bob Dandridge, Gerald Henderson, Fran Tarkenton