MECKLENBURG Co., Va. - As we head into the new year, there's continued talk of support of legalizing adult-use marijuana in Virginia.
In November, Gov. Ralph Northam voiced his support of legalization, with a focus on equity.
“Sometimes, communities of color are disproportionately impacted by what happens through the legalization, or when we haven't had legalization of marijuana,” Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring told News 3 in November.
Earlier this month, Ring said legalizing adult-use cannabis could have a significant economic impact in the Commonwealth.
“Making sure that smaller farmers, minority farmers, producers, businesses have an opportunity to be able to have licenses to grow to be part of that industry," she said.
For four generations, farming has been planted within Dr. John Boyd Jr.’s family.
“It’s an art,” Boyd said.
Boyd is also the founder of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), an advocacy and outreach group based in Virginia, serving minority farmers nationwide.
“Trying to change laws so it would make farming, quite frankly, better for black farmers,” he said.
He and his wife, NBFA Program & Event Coordinator Kara Boyd, grow hemp and all sorts of crops at their farm near South Hill.
They're paying attention to a potential new crop. Marijuana.
“It's something that's long overdue,” John Boyd said.
Boyd told News 3 he's personally talked with Northam about the issue before, and believes equity should be at the forefront of adult-use legalization.
“I think this would be a great opportunity to do that, to get black farmers and other small-scale farmers on the front end, instead of on the back end,” he said.
He added it could benefit the state economically, and give farmers opportunities, especially those who grew tobacco.
“I recently stopped raising tobacco after the tobacco buyout. Southside Virginia, these were all very high producing tobacco counties. So, when we lost tobacco, it was detrimental to the southern part of the state,” Boyd said. “This will allow for a mainstream of monies to flow to those type of farmers.”
The Boyds want to be involved in talks about legalization moving forward.
“My question would be how exactly they intend to really put this into practice,” Kara Boyd said. “Engagement and participation, I believe, is how they can prove or show to the residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia that they're sincere about having it inclusive.”
John Boyd said he’d be interested in adding cannabis to his crops, if it would be legalized for adult use.
“We take pride in what we grow,” John Boyd said. “If I grow marijuana, I'm going to take pride in it and make sure that I do it the right way.”