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Attorney General sparks up conversation on legalizing recreational marijuana

Attorney General Mark Herring tweeted his support for the legalization of recreational cannabis in Virginia Tuesday night, citing a study that shows more than half of Virginians agree with him.

Capital News Service

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By Jeff Raines

Attorney General Mark Herring tweeted his support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Virginia Tuesday night.

“Virginians know we can do better. It’s time to move toward legal, regulated adult use,” Herring said in his retweet of a study that revealed more than half of Virginians agree with him.

The study, published by the University of Mary Washington last month, showed that 61% of Virginians support the legalization of recreational marijuana, while 34% oppose legalization. The remaining respondents said they were uncertain.

 This is a noticeable uptick from a UMW study conducted in 2017 that showed 39% of Virginians supported legalizing marijuana for personal use. The 2017 question was worded differently, asking if marijuana should be legalized in general, for personal or medical use, or remain illegal. A plurality said medical marijuana should be legal and the rest (17%) were opposed to legalization.

Recreational use of marijuana is becoming an increasingly popular issue for Virginia politicians as they go into the November State Senate elections and the upcoming 2021 gubernatorial elections.

Stephen Farnsworth, a UMW political science professor, said he believes legalization is several years away, but the timeline could change if a Democratic majority is elected in November. Eighty percent of the Commonwealth’s youth (25 and under) are in favor of recreational marijuana, Farnsworth said. “Winning the support of younger voters can be key.”

Herring, a candidate in the 2021 gubernatorial elections, has long voiced his support for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Micheal Kelly, director of communications for Herring, said in an email the attorney general believes “Virginia needs to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, take action to address past convictions, and a move towards legal and regulated adult use in Virginia.”

Almost all marijuana-related arrests last year (90%) were for possession alone, and arrests for marijuana possession have increased 115% from 2003 to 2017, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office. First-time marijuana convictions in Virginia have risen 53% from 2008 to 2017, with enforcement costs estimated to be nearly $81 million a year.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Live Updates: Ongoing list and information on Richmond area institution and event closures, postponements

With new information and cancellations coming in by the hour, the below is our attempt to keep you up to date on the latest Richmond area closures, cancellations, and community information, with links to relevant resources for more. We’ll continue to update this article as we learn more. Feel free to leave your own in the comments or email to [email protected]

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Note: We’re attempting to keep this list up to date as often as possible. Please submit any changes, additions, or corrections to [email protected] Want to support our efforts? Please consider making a donation to RVAHub at the link below.




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Please note that this list is rapidly changing and we’re doing our best to keep it updated but we will at time have some outdated information. Please let us know if there has been a change.

In the interest of public health and safety, the administration of Mayor Levar Stoney recommends that all restaurants, bars, and other establishments that serve food and drink within city limits eliminate bar seating, move tables at least six feet apart and limit their on-site service to 50 percent of their normal capacity. If 50 percent of capacity exceeds the CDC-recommended limit of 50 people gathered, establishments should limit their service to 50 or fewer patrons. The recommendation does not affect any restaurant’s capacity to offer carryout and delivery. In order to support the residents and businesses of Richmond, the administration will introduce on March 23 an ordinance outlining a city amnesty program for all penalties and interest on most local taxes due between March 13 and June 30, 2020. This proposed program will exclude personal property taxes on vehicles, motor vehicle license taxes, and vehicle license fees, as required by ordinance. The city is also exploring options for a program to issue small, no-interest loans to support small businesses. More information on this will be provided at a later date.

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Councilwoman Gray hosting online Second District town hall, introducing two resolutions to help small businesses

Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

RVAHub Staff

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Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) issued a statement today calling for the City of Richmond to support small businesses, especially the hard-hit restaurant industry, during the COVID-19 crisis, through two draft resolutions.

Gray’s first proposed paper asks the City administration for revised revenue estimates for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21, including any assumptions and methodologies used in the revised forecast, by April 3.

A second proposed paper calls for the Administration to find ways to administratively, legally or legislatively accomplish the following:

  1. Rescind the Richmond City meals tax for the months of February, March and April (March, April and May payments);
  2. Refund 50% of the 2020 Richmond Business, Professional and Occupational license taxes paid by restaurants prospectively to the City in January 2020 or later (given that estimates of future restaurant sales for the remainder of the year were based on normal operations, which is no longer a realistic assumption); and
  3. Re-forecast restaurant-related revenues for FY 19-20 and FY 20-21 to allow for timely amendments to the current and proposed annual budgets in order to offset any fiscal impacts.

Both proposed papers also call for the Administration to submit new budget recommendations based on the impact of the effects of COVID-19 to date.

“While the Governor is aggressively addressing the major health and education issues confronting our Commonwealth, City Council needs to prepare for the long-term battle and help pave the way for ultimate economic recovery,” Gray said in a news release. “First and foremost, we need to create a substantial contingency fund to address the many challenges that lie ahead. That will require a revised revenue forecast for the current fiscal year and the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2020. Creating such a contingency will also require hard choices and due diligence on each and every expenditure by the City.

Equally important will be meaningful and immediate tax relief for our small businesses and especially our restaurants. Richmond restaurants face perhaps the highest tax burden of any industry in the City, and its workers have been the most immediately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Finally, the City needs to build long-term COVID-19 prevention into every decision. The dismantling of the Camp Cathy encampment is a case in point: With no long-term plan for the housing of these individuals, they, as well as the community at large, are vulnerable to further transmission of the virus.”

City Council should not be forced to make what will likely be very tough budget decisions on the fly with outdated information,” Gray said. “We need the city government to come together to meet the needs of its citizens, and that may very well require additional tax relief to the most threatened families, individuals and businesses in the City.”

Gray will host a Facebook Live session tonight, Monday, March 30, at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposals and hear from Richmond residents. View her page here.

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Governor Ralph Northam issues statewide “Stay at Home” order

Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.

RVAHub Staff

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Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.

The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.

The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.

“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Five can be found here.

There is no enforcement clause; the largest tangible change from last week’s directive to stay at home is the closure of beaches and bodies of water to swimming. Fishing is permissible.

Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three closing certain non-essential businesses, prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people, and directing all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here.

For the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus or CDC.gov/coronavirus.

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