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Hampton Roads lawmakers, residents react to vote legalizing marijuana in Virginia starting in 2024

Marijuana Boom Oklahoma
Posted at 9:14 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 22:09:56-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Last year, Melanie Davis's 11-year-old daughter, Maddie, passed away following a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

“You will do absolutely anything you can - go to the ends of the earth and spend every penny that you have, or don't have, to do whatever you can to save your child's life and then give them life worth living,” Davis said.

Davis told News 3 throughout the cancer treatments, cannabis improved her daughter’s quality of life.

“That cannabis medicine gave her a life worth living and let her be a kid and enjoy things that most children and adults never get to enjoy in four of her lifetimes,” she said.

The Hampton mother has supported legalizing marijuana in Virginia.

“I know that cannabis has an innumerable amount of positive benefits,” Davis said.

She's happy after this weekend's General Assembly vote to legalize adult-use cannabis starting in January 2024.

Hampton Roads Del. Steve Heretick has been a supporter of pot reform in the Commonwealth for years.

“I think this was done the right way,” Heretick said.

He said the move is exciting.

“We certainly listened to a lot of different voices,” he said. “We're not going to get there in one fell swoop. It's not going to happen overnight, and when we do this, we want to do it correctly. We want to get it right.”

Meanwhile, Hampton Roads Del. Cia Price decided not to vote on the bill this weekend.

“It was not something that, within the conference report, I could bring myself to support,” Price told News 3.

She believes the bill doesn't go far enough to support social justice and thinks simple possession should be legalized starting this July.

“If we're making movement towards setting up the infrastructure in order to sell something, then it does not make sense that it is still illegal at that time for you to possess it,” Price said.

Heretick told News 3 he understands Price’s frustration.

“If that legislatively is just not in the cards right now, then I'm going to take, I think, a good bill and move it forward rather than to just sit down and simply say no and to stop it altogether because, to me, that option gives us nothing,” Heretick said.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is against the move, with concerns including impaired driving.

“The ability to actually measure impairment and what exactly how much cannabis in your system actually is measurable and considered impairment the same we treat alcohol, we don't have those answers yet,” VACP Executive Director Dana Schrad said.

Both Heretick and Davis support trying to move up the time frame as much as possible.

For Davis, she believes progress is progress.

“We don't know who the governor is going to be next year, and we don't know what the House and the Senate is going to look like next year. So, we knew that this year we could pass this bill that legalizes cannabis in Virginia,” Davis said. “There's definitely room for improvement. There's definitely more steps to be taken, but this is a huge win in Virginia for cannabis reform.”