Public Comments for 01/30/2021 General Laws - ABC/Gaming Subcommittee
HB2312 - Marijuana; legalization of simple possession, etc.
Last Name: Brown Organization: CECVA - Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA Locality: Richmond

My name is Billie Brown I am a member of CECVA – Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA CECVA is in support of Del Herrings HB 2312; however, we are advocating that the bill be amended to increase the percentage of tax revenue allocated to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund from 30% to 70%. The Governor’s Bill has allocated 40% of tax revenues to fund Pre-K education. While CECVA is in favor of funding Pre-K…this has always been a direct obligation of Virginia taxpayers from General Fund revenues. CECVA’s position is that all Pre-K funding should continue to be fully supported and funded from General Fund revenues. CECVA strongly advocates that Virginia follow the New Jersey model and allocate 70% of tax revenue received from the Adult Use Marijuana Industry to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund to be used exclusively to help repair families and communities that have been most hurt by Virginia’s War on Drugs. CECVA is also requesting that the committee consider amending the makeup of the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board to be fully reflective of the population it will be serving.

Last Name: Gilliam Locality: Virginia Beach

As a retired law enforcement officer (25 years) in Virginia, I believe this change is overdue. All of the fear mongering I hear about this is unwarranted. Please pass this bill now. Respectfully.

Last Name: Wilson Organization: United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 400 Locality: Washington

UFCW Local 400 represents over 10,000 members in Virginia who work in retail food, food service, food processing and healthcare. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony. Nationally, UFCW represents over 1.3 million hard-working men and women who work in highly regulated industries including the emerging legal cannabis industry. UFCW Local 400 strongly supports HB 2312 and urges the addition of labor peace agreements as a condition of cannabis licensure and renewal. Labor peace agreements protect businesses, workers, and consumers, and are an effective regulatory tool for the state. The addition of the ability of the newly formed board to suspend or revoke the license of an operator who is not neutral when their employees are attempting to unionize, does not pay the prevailing wage, or attempts to classify over 10% of their employees as independent contractors, is a huge step in the right direction towards ensuring employees in this new industry are able to have a voice. There is no equity for employees in this industry if they are wrongfully denied representation and a voice on the job and in the regulatory process. A labor peace agreement would take employees the rest of the way by leaving no doubt that adult cannabis employers will respect the rights of their workforce, giving those employees the ability to equitably share in this new industry. The specific language change in the substitute bill we would recommend is: Add to 4.1-606B as a new 18 between line 6458 and 6459 to read: 18. Establish requirements for all license applicants to submit an attestation signed by a bona fide labor organization stating that the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with such bona fide labor organization. The maintenance of a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization shall be an ongoing material condition of maintaining a marijuana cultivation, marijuana manufacturing, marijuana testing, marijuana wholesaler, or marijuana retail store license. In reviewing initial license applications, the commission shall give priority to the following: (i) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents, or is actively seeking to represent, cannabis workers in Virginia. (ii) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents cannabis workers in another state. (iii) Applicants that include a significantly involved person or persons lawfully residing in Virginia for at least two year as of the date of the application. (iv) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming that they will use best efforts to utilize union building trades labor organizations in the construction or retrofit of the facilities associated with the permitted entity. (v) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming they have a project labor agreement, or will utilize a project labor agreement, which is a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering the terms and conditions of a specific project, including labor issues and worker grievances associated with any construction or retrofit of facilities, or other applicable project, associated with the licensed entity. It would also add to 4.1-900 under 1p as a new (iv) in line 7194 to read: (iv) Failing to maintain a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.

Last Name: LaPointe Locality: Charlottesville

Marijuana legalization strikes at many of the racial, legal, and socioeconomic inequities facing Virginians. Legalization should occur as soon as possible, particularly given its overwhelming support both nationally and in the state.

Last Name: Keitz Locality: Pulaski County

I am in favor of this bill as it stands, as a good start. I suggest the following changes: * Allow ONLY small producers to vertically integrate (cultivate, manufacture, and sell at one same single location). This follows the farm winery / microbrewery model presently in place for wine and beer. For wine and beer that law has been highly successful to encourage agritourism. Also it has enabled small operators to maintain their niche presence in the market even in the face of large corporate producers. * The present proposal re-hashes the archaic Virginia ABC "three tier system" onto the marijuana business. In the distant past, it made sense as beer/wine was taxed on the volume of product at the wholesale level. Having relatively few wholesale distributors forming a choke point simplified enforcing tax compliance. The proposed marijuana tax though is a percentage of the retail price, to be collected by the retailer. In that context a "three tier" system has nothing to serve the public interest. It creates a class of licensee who is strictly a middle man, and requires all commerce to pass through him. That is never a benefit to the consumer, and also hamstrings the producer. * Allow licensed cultivators to import seeds or immature plants from out of State. It should not be necessary to break the law to bring a new variety of marijuana to market. * Change the personal grow exemption to reflect that many households have two adults who are users, and in that case allow each person to grow four plants for their personal use. Also I agree with the ACLU and UFCW comments on the bill.

Last Name: Kaczor Locality: Rappahannock

I support HB2312 though I believe home cultivation should be made effective July 1, 2021. If cannabis is legalized but no one can't grow it, buy it or bring it in from a legal state are you not encouraging an illegal market? I would also like to see home cultivation worked on. The current definition of immature plant includes "no taller than eight inches" which is inaccurate and quickly makes all plants mature limiting households to two plants only. Given the length of time a plant needs to grow, I would hope to see the number of plants increased and changed to per person of age as apposed to the current per household.

Last Name: Rogers Locality: Woodbridge

I would like to write in support of HB 2312, but also voice that I feel very strongly that home cultivation of some form should be included in the bill's effective date of July 1 of this year. Legalizing possession is the obvious next step but I believe that without the ability to grow, citizens would be encouraged and almost directed to purchase cannabis on the black market, and put prospective business owners and workers in the cannabis industry this bill seeks to establish at a disadvantage. Moving home cultivation up with possession would allow these would-be business owners/hopeful industry workers in Virginia to try their hand at growing a clean, quality product and perfect the process of growing on a small scale for their own personal consumption; I believe this would also cut into the black market share of the industry by eliminating the need to purchase or secure cannabis on the black market before the date that retail stores are in place (retail stores this bill believes should be staffed and owned by Virginian residents, who will have no legal way to practice growing the plant hands-on, while outside entities from other states with years of experience in the game wait to move in and corner the market from inexperienced Virginia cannabis growers). Don't let perfect be the enemy of good! If you're legalizing cannabis possession, please legalize a way for it to be obtained by Virginians (growing it yourself)! You can always fine-tune it next session :( Thanks!

Last Name: Hipp Organization: No Locality: Nelson

It would be a great way to add jobs in Virginia

Last Name: Kaur Organization: Independant Locality: Petersburg

The use of Cochaine, Heroin, ecstacy, optoids are 1 million times worse than Marajuana, which 98 :/: are incarcetated and thrown in jail, even for small amounts of possession. I personally started to use it whilst going through my divorce and there after. Alchohol and Marijuana have different effects, and If it was not for Marajuana I may have taken my ex husbands life, I testify to that, Marajuana treats anxiety, anger, moon swings, depression it also helps with pain management ..the only problem is there is sativa and indica which can contribute great differences to ones life, I personally would request that we have more weed doctors to evaluate ones illness so that they can prescribe the right medicinal amount based on each individual, the down sides are having the muncheez, but on a serious note, more doctors analyzing and prescribing the right doses of thc in capsules would work better for those who do not smoke or like the smell. Marajuana has unfortunately assisted me in these last two turbulent years, but the ailments return when I stop intaking it. I am not addicted to Marajuana and I use very small quantities, I prefer Marijuana rather than alchohilc, as I was married to an alchohlic and I experienced violent behaviour whilst one is intoxicated compared to smoking. The Medicinal Benefits of Marajuana helps cancer patients, Leukimia and many other illnesses, I also think we need more edible cake bake and cookie stores, the real problem is that no one knows what is grown indica or sativa and no one knows what they are smoking. If the Government take control of the growing and cultivation of this medicinal plant, at least when it is used in baking adibles in stores at least people will know what they are intaking smoking or eating or drinking. The blasphemy of incarcerating people for Marajuana is a joke and an excuse to target individuals. Regulating, producing and cultivating Marajuana will become a huge industry in the USA..even the use of hemp creams, oils. Then we have to start to seriously look at pharmacutical companies and how we must stop drugging and dosing and testing and experimenting on people..they call it medicine, tablets or liqued, Marajuana capsules and edibles are going to give big Pharma a run for their money. Natural remedies, rather than popping pills that have enormous negative side effects, not to mention they can also become adictive. I personally would prefer to have a capsule form or edibles with thc rather than smoking, and that is where the USA takes over the distribution, production and selling of this plant, and most importantly the cultivation is important because some one with epilepsy will need Indica and someone with depression and anxiety will advance towards sativa. God Bless You. Kind Regards Gursharan. Obviously the Government must take the initative to seed, grow, and produce more efficient ways to intake, taking a plant and not knowing what one is taking plays a major role in ones lives...and necoming more informative about what the benefits are to those who suffer from ptsd which 99 percent of veterans do..it also decreaces the suicide rate so hugely. Marajuana is not a drug, it is medicine which can be more progressively cultivated.

Last Name: Gatza Locality: Fair fax County, Alexandria

Please do the common sense, morally right, thing and legalize the plant for adult recreational use. It has caused zero deaths, yet is the source of millions of incarcerations. The laws that were based in racism and not science have disproportionately affected populations of color in our great Commonwealth far too long. Let us be the voice of reason and agents of change for our children. Leverage the legalization to create new jobs and spur the economy. Do this by giving preference to small, woman, and/or minority businesses in licensing, loans, etc. when setting up the regulations for the recreational market and business licensing. For the record, I am a white male-so I am not looking to benefit myself. Just trying to implore my elected officials to do something right and set an example. We weren’t at the forefront of this much needed change, but we can set an example of how to do this correctly and quickly for those that will undoubtedly follow and legalize.

Last Name: Lawson Battaglia Locality: Alexandria

Dear Committee Members: I am writing to ask you to legalize cannabis so as to create an equitable commercial market. In order to do that, you must be include remedies to past harm to communities most impacted by the drug war and over-policing. As you must certainly know, Black and white people use and sell cannabis at roughly the same rates, yet Black Virginians are charged at about 3 times the rate of white people. This is more astonishing given that Black people make up about 20% of Virginia's population. These facts cannot be ignored if we are to work towareds racial justice and equity. I support Marijuana Justice and am asking you to implement 5 key points: 1. Ban Vertical Integration 2. Social Equity License make up 50 percent of ALL Licenses 3. All licenses MUST be held by a Virginia Resident 4. Strike Social Equity Loophole of Hiring 10 Impacted Virginians 5. 70 percent tax revenue for the reinvestment fund Thank you for taking the time and intention to legalize it right by considering past harms. Best, Linsdsey Lawson Battaglia

Last Name: Mills Locality: Virginia Beach

This is bad legislation with data skewed to one perspective. There is no need to legalize a substance proven to cause health problems and incite other crimes.

Last Name: Stitcher Locality: Fredericksburg

I think you should legalize recreational use of marijuana because it helped me stop drinking so much. It has help me deal with my stress and anxiety. It helps me when I had seizures in the past as well. It can help many others. It can also bring revenue to local and state governments. Over half the country is benefitting off of it being legalized. We should be too. It honestly is inevitable! Please!

Last Name: Davidson Organization: Davidson Anesthesia, PLLC Locality: Richmond, VA

As a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in the state of Virginia, I can attest to and have witnessed the devastating addictive effects of narcotics on some of my patients. In stark contrast, cannabis overdose cannot lead to death and its healing qualities in the endocannabinoid system in our bodies can help with many ailments that plaque the citizens of Virginia such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, PTSD to name a few. Please legalize this formally misunderstood plant so that Virginians can take advantage of all it has to offer and in so doing also bring much needed funding for our economy and food shortages caused by this horrific pandemic. Thank you for listening!

Last Name: Wright Locality: Ruther Glen

Good Afternoon, My name is Heather Wright. I’m a lifelong Virginia resident that would like to ask for your support of HB 2312. I believe the legalization of marijuana in the commonwealth should be supported. The cannabis industry will bring much needed jobs and money to our crippled economy. Just look at the statistics that prove responsible adult use cannabis is not as dangerous as alcohol. I’m also a current Virginia Medical Cannabis patient and would appreciate the access to lower priced medicine which passage of this bill would ultimately create. While destroying the illicit black market we have now. Please support HB2312! Thanks, Heather

Last Name: Todd Locality: Roanoke County

I live in rural Roanoke County, VA. (Boones Mill). We sure could use the tax revenue here from completely legal cannabis. Most kids smoke it anyway and they’re fine. Don’t let surrounding states get all the revenue. Reason enough to pass this bill. Just do it. -Non-Smoker and Virginian

Last Name: Piracha Locality: Henrico

I support HB2312. Marijuana drug enforcement disproportionately targets Black and Brown communities despite marijuana use being similar across racial groups. The current system must be reformed in order to reach racial equity and justice in law enforcement. While there may be legitimate concerns about health and safety due to marijuana use in large amounts or in certain situations such as operating a vehicle or machinery, studies have shown that marijuana is less dangerous than other drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.

Last Name: Christine savage Organization: Myself and veterans Locality: Virginia beach

Please let's see this legalization go forward. The benefits are huge,generating tax dollars to benefit schools,reducing jail overcrowding,reducing court dockets,generating jobs and medicinal use guarantees relief for so many. Veterans who have not found pain relief through pharmaceuticals. It is time to move forward.

Last Name: Mcinnis Locality: Richmond

My name is Meaghan McInnis, residing in Richmond Va. I am writing to tell you how important it is to legislate an equitable cannabis commercial market that will include communities normally left to the margins and center those who have been most impacted by marijuana prohibition.

Last Name: Warburton Locality: Richmond city

I believe Virginia can create an equitable future for marijuana legalization. That starts with immediate end of prohibition and expungement of records and release of anyone in jail for marijuana related crimes. I also believe Virginia should be helping people obtain their licenses to work in the marijuana field. Anyone who’s been charged for distribution of marijuana should be given a first chance at obtaining marijuana licenses.

Last Name: Banks Locality: Chester

Hello

Last Name: Cunningham Locality: Nelson County

While you are deciding how policies will affect people for years to come: please repeal marijuana prohibition for simple possession under an ounce. Please do not criminalize another generation of youth for marijuana possession. You have the power to end a cycle of disempowerment. Expungement must be far-reaching, free, and without barriers. No new crimes for marijuana usage in a vehicle! I know many constituents who have been harmed by prohibition and criminalization in our county. Please serve the people by protecting them from harmful policies. THANK YOU!

Last Name: Griffith Locality: City of Virginia Beach

I support the bill ONLY with these significant changes: 1. A completely new regulatory agency (separate from the ABC) should have full regulatory power over the adult use cannabis industry. It is a different substance and should be regulated differently. 2. Remove language that creates new crimes targeting minors. The goal of this program is to stop targeting minorities and punishing them on Cannabis use. Underage consumption should be treated as a health issue treated with classes or rehab, not a criminal issue punishing them with charges and jail. 3. Ban vertical integration so the wealth is DISTRIBUTED! It’s about the amount of lives effected, not about the amount of money one person/company can make. I believe someone mentioned previously that it’s easier to allow it later if you feel that’s necessary later on , rather than allowing it now and deciding to ban it later. If we want the most Virginia families to be positively impacted by this new industry, we must ban vertical integration. 4. Remove language allowing corporations who employ individuals who have been effected by cannabis criminalization to receive the same benefits as individuals who have been directly effected by cannabis criminalization. Again, if this is truly about social equity, it only makes sense that these benefits are reserved specifically to those individuals only. 5. Allow a larger portion (50%) of adult use cannabis tax income to be directed back to social equity. If we want this program to be centered about Social Equity. Social equity must truly be threaded all throughout the legislation. Thank you all for your hard work and commitment to establishing an Adult Use Cannabis Industry with true integrity.

Last Name: Cain Organization: None Locality: Moseley

Legalize possession. Now. Pass HB2312. Let’s inch a little closer to liberty and justice for all, by quickly ameliorating the deleterious effects of this misbegotten, politically driven prohibition. As our state wisely moves to full, regulated legalization, it’s high time that the law catch up with what’s right. Let’s let law enforcement focus on protecting and serving, not harassing our communities. Legal possession. Post haste!

Last Name: Rinehardt Locality: Richmond

My name is Sarah R Rinehardt, residing in Richmond, VA, county of Henrico. I am writing to tell you how important it is to legislate an equitable cannabis commercial market that will include communities normally left to the margins and center those who have been the most impacted by the violence of marijuana prohibition. To do that, we are recommending 4 key points: 1. Repeal marijuana prohibition for simple possesion under an ounce now. 2. Do not criminalize another generation of youth and young adults for marijuana possession. 3. Expungement must be far-reaching, free and without barriers. 4. No new crimes for marijuana usage in a vehicle. Sincerely, S. Rinehardt

Last Name: Hill Organization: N/A Locality: Lorton

Marijuana: Glimpsing at Snow Between the Bars Today I woke up to a rare delight in Virginia. Snow. I looked through one of the many windows in our house, basking in its whimsical glory. However, my mind quickly turned to those unfairly imprisoned for simple marijuana possession. I thought of them excitedly peaking through the bars to catch a glimpse of the falling snow. Like snow, they were caught up in something that is, by all definitions, natural and a gift for us from Earth. Delegate, ending the marijuana prohibition in Virginia would be one of these rare but needed delights. Legalization benefits all Virginians and especially those who have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition. According to a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), a legal marijuana market would create between 11,000 and 18,000 jobs. During the tumultuous times of COVID-19, it is imperative to create sustainable jobs for those who have been unemployed. Additionally, JLARC predicts that a recreational marijuana market could generate $308 million in annual tax revenue. This revenue is severely needed in Virginia to undo the damage of marijuana prohibition and to fund Virginia’s many programs (education, public utilities, etc.). While the bill, as it stands is well-written, it is missing some crucial components that we Virginians are calling for. Firstly, we need to repeal marijuana prohibition for simple possession under an ounce now. We also must avoid criminalizing yet another generation of youth. When marijuana laws are carelessly applied, they are stealing the future of many people aged 18-25. Evidence also shows that these laws most impact Black Americans. How does this support the rule of law? How are we helping these youth if they are struck by the hand of Virginia? Lastly, expungement should be automatic and far-reaching. The state of Virginia needs to do its part in repairing the wounds that marijuana prohibition has wrought. This work, of course, involves expungement and funding Black-owned cannabis businesses. I imagine a legal market in Virginia. No, I do not imagine the glitzy cannabis stores or the products they sell. No, I envision the state of Virginia and its citizens bending the bars, reaching a helping hand to those who have been harmed by this prohibition. This is the future your delegates and Virginians want. Delegate, we ask you to help us secure this future by helping pass HB 2312. Supporting this rare but historic bill would be a tremendous step forward for Virginia and Virginians. I encourage you to listen to your constituents and do the right thing and help pass HB 2312.

Last Name: Boudell Locality: Virginia Beach

I have suffered from MS for twenty years, all the available science indicates that marijuana helps ppl who struggle with this incurable disease. I first ran across this bit of data in a book from ‘73 by Lester Grinspoon, it’s time to fix this issue. It’s not a cure just a tool, a medicine that enables one to cope with the myriad symptoms that we are presented with. Making it legal would allow a wider range of options than what we now have, a freer atmosphere to research differing forms marijuana treatment folks might need or feel comfortable with. We were agrarian at one point, legalization would be a great way to start that economy once again. The spin off businesses that would support legalized marijuana would be inestimable in a tourist beach town like mine. Finally it presents a superb opportunity to address institutional racism. Black folks have suffered in greater numbers than other Americans during the drug war. Now is a great time address that inequality. Thanks, A Citizen

Last Name: Campbell Locality: Woodstock

By legalizing marijuana in Virginia, you would be changing the lives of so many of your constituents. I am 23 and live with a chronic pain disorder, anxiety, and depression. Being able to manage my pain with marijuana without the fear of legal action would give me some control back over my life, instead of depending on prescriptions that don’t always work. This also gives our state the opportunity to rectify some of the harm done to black and brown communities, who have been the most targeted and affected by harsh marijuana laws. And think of all the revenue from taxes!! That money can go to helping our schools, rebuilding infrastructure, and other uses that benefit all of us. Please at least allow us to legally possess an ounce or less this summer; 2020 was rough for everyone and we could really use this win. Thank you.

Last Name: Cara Stutzman Locality: Virginia Beach

To whom it may concern: I am a resident of Virginia Beach as well as legal, registered medical marijuana patient in the state of Virginia. I suffer from anxiety as well as Crohn’s disease. I support legal, adult use of marijuana because current marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced between black Virginians and white Virginians despite equal usage rates. Although my prescriptions are legal, there is still a lot of stigma associated with the use of marijuana. My ability to purchase a gun, travel across state lines with my medicine and future employment opportunities are all impacted by current marijuana laws. I believe that Virginia can help pave the way to federal legalization by making this change within our state laws.

Last Name: Ramos Locality: Troy, Va, Louisa County

As a 44 years resident, retired medical researcher, and tax payer of Virginia I am in favor of legalization of marijuana. Tax wise, agriculturally, and medically--legalization of marijuana will be beneficial to Virginia. We can regulate it just as we do driving, cigarettes, and alcohol (ABC stores), as well as tax it. Marijuana should never have been classified as a Class I drug--the pharmaceutical industry was instrumental in this. As a treatment for PTSD, and other medical issues, it has proven to aid in relief without the possible addictions to pharmaceutical drugs, or the astronomical costs associated. Allowing for citizens to grow it for personal use in limited amounts should be included. Not to mention that we will eliminate the need for more 'private' prisons (incentivizing incarcerations) to imprison non-violent offenders. Please legalize this natural product to advance Virginia's economic stability.

Last Name: Herrera Organization: Myself Locality: Olathe Kansas

I had COVID19 in March 2020. The devastation to my body has continued in the form of excruciating pain and destruction to all my joints in the form of rheumatoid arthritis spondylitis and Adult Stills disease. I am never without pain. I am destined for a wheelchair. The only release from the pain is THC which I consume in the form of edibles. I live in Kansas where it’s impossible to obtain THC. I must put family at risk in order to obtain THC from other states. Family members travel to other states to purchase THC for me and if they are caught, their lives are ruined. Please pass this bill and protect my family and help me live pain free.

Last Name: Brown Organization: Poo Pack LLC Locality: Hampton roads

1. Ban vertical integration 2. Licenses should be owned by Virginians 3. 50% of licenses should be reserved for Social Equity 4. Strike the ability to apply for a social equity license by hiring 10 impacted folks 5. Increase the amount of tax revenue dedicated for reinvestment from 30% to 70%

Last Name: Freitas Locality: Sterling

Anyone engaging in good faith has to admit that the war on drugs has been a spectacular failure--one that has disproportionately victimized Black Americans and other communities of color. Simple possession must be legalized immediately to prevent further harm to communities that have already suffered, and will continue to suffer as long as these outdated, racist laws remain in place.

Last Name: Green Organization: Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys Locality: Williamsburg / James City County

The Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys has no official position on the legalization of marijuana. However, if the sale of marijuana is to be legalized, VACA is concerned that the lawful, regulated market not be placed at a disadvantage in comparison to the black market or illegal sale of marijuana. Presently the bill allows for the unlicensed sale of up to one ounce of marijuana. Because the vast majority of transactions involving marijuana are for amounts below 1 ounce, those individuals who follow the regulations and process for licensure established by this bill and sell marijuana legally are placed at a significant financial disadvantage in comparison to the individuals who can sell up to one ounce without suffering any negative civil or criminal consequence. California's legalization scheme has come under tremendous scrutiny for not doing enough to enforce disincentives for black market transactions. If individuals in Virginia are permitted to sell up to an ounce without civil or criminal consequences, Virginia's legalization efforts will do far less to address the black market than the efforts being called into question in California.

Last Name: Theys Locality: Ashburn

Please fix the system so it expunges records automatically and without barriers. Make easy defaults in the system and gov forms.

Last Name: Clifton Kuykendall Locality: Alexandria

Just like a $15 minimum wage, affordable healthcare, it’s time. Additionally, passing HB2312 will increase revenue & decrease crime, which makes this a windfall across the board.

Last Name: Roche Organization: None Locality: Chesterfield

It is time for Virginia to move towards regulated sale of cannabis for adult use. Not only can cannabis effectively treat pain, some types of anxiety, and other health conditions without the use of opiate drugs, but the regulated sale of cannabis is absolutely a necessary component of keeping VA’s economy strong. We need to give teachers raises and expand Medicaid so that people with disabilities have a fighting chance at living a life like yours. The taxes collected from regulated sale would allow Virginia to do these things and so much more. Please move another step beyond decriminalization by moving towards regulated sale. This ensures true decriminalization and provides for adult use. The current medical model is costing people money they do not have, to see doctors who do not know them, and it is not an accessible model. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Whalen Locality: Richmond

Virginia needs to be progressive on this issue. It will help our economy and it will also help right the wrongs of arresting decent citizens for possessing a plant.

Last Name: Hocutt Locality: Virginia Beach

I would like to share my personal story about the positive experience and benefits cannabis has brought to my life. I am a retired veteran with 5 years old twins and I am a closet user due to the stigma behind being a cannabis user. I completed two Masters degrees within a three year period while working 16+ hour days for a huge government contractor. I am a career mother suffering from PTSD due to my experience with MST during my time as an active duty member. I also suffer from OCD and anxiety which somedays is so debilitating I cannot function. I use cannabis because it helps me function in all the ways prescription medications are peddled to make us believe they work. My home is immaculate and my bills are paid. I have never used anything harsher than alcohol or cannabis and since becoming a cannabis user I barely drink. I fear everyday I will lose my job, kids and everything I have worked so hard for because if people knew I was cannabis user I would automatically be categorized as a druggie and bad mom. Without me telling my story noone would ever be able to tell from the outside. My kids are happy, healthy and well taken care of I want to share my story in hopes of educating others.

Last Name: Goldman Organization: Self Locality: Fairfax County

My name is Paula Goldman. I'm a resident of Fairfax County and I am writing in support of legalization of marijuana in the Commonwealth for adult use via HB2312-Herring. I'm in my 50's and I have tried marijuana just enough to know that it isn't something I'd be using regularly even if it was legal. Nonetheless, I support its legalization for 4 reasons. First and foremost, I'd like to see the Commonwealth taxing and regulating marijuana much as it does cigarettes and alcohol, two substances that pose more potential harm than marijuana. This would bring revenue to the Commonwealth that can be used to fund affordable treatment for addiction, among other things. Second, I want an end to what amounts to inadvertently subsidizing gangs and criminal enterprises -- as long as marijuana remains illegal to sell, people will be buying it illegally and funding the gangs and other criminals who are in the business of selling it -- and not paying any taxes on the sales, either. We are essentially repeating the mistakes of Prohibition, which helped fund the Mafia's rise in the US. (https://prohibition.themobmuseum.org/the-history/the-rise-of-organized-crime/the-mob-during-prohibition/). If we want to see fewer of our youth being seduced by MS-13, we need to take the allure of easy money out of gang membership. And yes, MS-13 and other gangs will try to sell "hard" drugs instead, but we can use some of our marijuana tax dollars to fund alternatives to gang membership and to crack down on cocaine, heroin, and other illegal, far more addictive drugs. Third, states that have legalized marijuana have seen a decrease in use of opiates (both legal and illegal) and in opiate mortality. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6717967/ and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7246665/ for the results of studies showing these decreases. It would be to the Commonwealth's benefit to have similar decreases. Fourth, as a tax payer, the cost of imprisoning people for non-violent distribution is astronomical and enforcement has been racially biased, resulting in mostly people of color being prosecuted and incarcerated. The cost to the individuals and their families also should not be discounted. Once marijuana is legalized in the Commonwealth, enforcement of "street" sales would still occur but should be treated the same as cigarette tax evasion. Thank you for your time considering my comments.

Last Name: Hamilton Locality: Fairfax

I would like it urge the committee to support this bill and to legalize marijuana the right way. Immediately legalize possession under an ounce, make expungement far reaching, and don’t create new crimes for marijuana usage in vehicles, which will be unjustly used to criminalize another generation.

Last Name: Jackson Locality: Radford

I have cirrhosis and pulmonary hypertension. Little appetite. Nausea. Often pain. Have lost so much weight, doctor thinks I will die of malnutrition. Yes we have medical marijuana but have not the resources for the several hundred dollar “exam” nor money to drive to Bristol. My one doctors wishes he could prescribe it. If legalized, it would be less cost for me and easier to locate! Not to mention it would greatly help my quality of life!

Last Name: Stillman Locality: Nelson County Virginia

1.Please repeal Marijuana prohibition for simple possession under an ounce asap. 2. Do not criminalize another generation of youth and young adults for Marijuana possession. 3. Expungement must be far reaching, free and without any barriers yo! 4. No new crimes for Marijuana usage in vehicle. Please please please Pretty please with a cherry on top.

Last Name: Rose Organization: Myself Locality: Charlottesville

Using cannabis has helped me tremendously. I’m more productive and friendly. I’d love to be able go to a dispensary and know exactly what I’m getting, knowing it’s safe and reliable, as well as push money back into the state from tax revenue.

Last Name: Pitts Locality: Midlothian

I urge you to please do your part to end prohibition on Marijuana before sales begin. During this pandemic we do not need our criminal system focused on a natural substance that has been deemed legal in many states and will be sold in the future in VA. Take this opportunity to end a racist law now, and provide people who need this to help them during a pandemic do so without potentially tying up unneeded resources..

Last Name: Tucker Locality: Albemarle

Dear Delegate, I’m writing to urge your support for HB 2312, to legalize and regulate the responsible use of cannabis by adults 21 and older. It’s time to stop ceding control and revenue of the cannabis market to unregulated and untaxed criminal enterprises, and the proposed pragmatic regulatory framework which licenses production and sale of cannabis to adults, combined with evidence-based education for minors, will best reduce the risks associated with its use and commerce. Governor Northam’s Marijuana Legalization Report positions Virginia as the single most prepared state to undertake a legislative effort to equitably legalize and regulate cannabis for adults. The nearly 500-page report explores and outlines how the Commonwealth can best approach this effort in a manner that is equitable, centers public and consumer safety, and creates economic opportunity for Virginians. Keeping the report in mind, there are multiple improvements that should be made to the legislation. It is critical that this legislation not roll back the progress achieved by decriminalization by the creation of multiple new crimes that will again target Black, Brown, poor and young Virginians, maintaining disproportionate criminalization of these groups. Currently, the legislation delays legal possession and personal cultivation until the date of legal retail sales. I am greatly concerned by the choice to continue penalizing Virginians - and disproportionately Black and Brown Virginians - until the Commonwealth and retailers are able to capitalize on cannabis sales. Legal possession and personal cultivation should be implemented on July 1, 2021. The allowance for personal cultivation is crucial for Virginians who may reside in areas not within a reasonable distance of a retail cannabis outlet, whether for adult or medical use. Additionally, the proposed two mature plus two immature plant limit should be increased to four plants total, whether mature or immature. While it will take many months to establish the regulatory structure and license retailers, in the interest of public and consumer safety, interim adult access should be expedited through collocation at the existing medical operators. Without such access, Virginians will continue to engage in criminal action to obtain what would otherwise be a legal product. It is also important that this legislation automatically expunges marijuana-related records, protects the parental and employment rights of responsible consumers and those participating in the legal cannabis industry, directs revenue to communities most impacted by marijuana criminalization, and creates economic opportunities for Virginians through microbusiness opportunities, particularly those harmed by prohibition and in rural agricultural areas. The ongoing prohibition of marijuana encroaches upon civil liberties, impedes legitimate scientific research, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. And as Virginia faces a looming $1 billion budget shortfall, expanding the Commonwealth's state-regulated cannabis industry to include adult-use can generate tax revenue to support our much-needed public services. Please support HB 2312 to equitably legalize and regulate the responsible adult-use of cannabis in Virginia and begin undoing the harms of prohibition.

Last Name: Cunningham Locality: Afton

Please repeal marijuana prohibition for the sake of families being torn apart by drug-war incarceration. Repeal marijuana prohibition NOW, not later, not once a market is set up for it. Do this for the sake of racial justice and in the name of what is right. This prohibition protects no one and instead harms Virginians and our trust in our state government. Please repeal marijuana prohibition immediately, without caveats, and repeal any and all criminal punishments related to marijuana prohibition.

Last Name: Isaac Organization: Marijuana Justice VA Locality: Richmond

My name is Naomi Isaac, I am an HBCU student and community organizer with Marijuana Justice VA, residing in Richmond. I am writing to tell you how important it is to legislate an equitable cannabis commercial market that will generate our Virginia economy in communities normally left to the margins. To do that, we are recommending 4 key points: 1.Repeal Marijuana prohibition for simple possession of under an ounce NOW--we cannot wait for the commercial market. 2. Do not criminalize another generation of youth and young adults for possessing marijuana. 3. Only “impacted people” eligible for expungement will qualify to participate in the industry, expungement must be far reaching, free and without barriers. No new crimes for marijuana in the car, the current DUI laws are sufficient Thank you for taking the time and intention to legalize it right. Sincerely, Naomi Isaac

Last Name: Hilliard Organization: Grow Up VA Locality: Richmond

Thank you to the committee, my name is Willie Hilliard from Richmond, Virginia and I represent Grow Up Va. I am here to encourage you to: 1. Repeal Marijuana prohibition for simple possession of under an ounce NOW and not wait. Waiting will only increase the criminalizing of people when eventually it will be legalized for the commercial market. 2. Not criminalize another generation of youth and young adults for possessing marijuana. We can no longer hinder the future of our youth with cumbersome criminal charges against them. 3. Ensure our expungement is far reaching, free and without barriers because only the “impacted people” who are also eligible for expungement will qualify to participate in the industry. 4. Legislate no new crimes for marijuana in the car. The current DUI laws are sufficient and to give criminal charges to innocent passengers is reprehensible to say the least. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Willie Hilliard

Last Name: Wall Locality: Gloucester

In addition to reducing or eliminating non-violent incarcerations, legalization eventually would lead to a good deal of tax revenue. I think the state could benefit from the this. Legalization is not a giant step from our current decriminalized status. I encourage you to please consider legalization for the benefit of the state, and I thank you for your time.

Last Name: Conner Locality: Culpeper

As you consider legislation for the legalization of marijuana, which is much needed in the state of Virginia, I urge you to: -Repeal marijuana prohibition for simple possession under an ounce now. -Treat minors in possession of marijuana as "children in need of services." not "juvenile delinquents" -Repeal the mandatory "zero tolerance expulsion policy for students with marijuana on school grounds - Make "intent to distribute" when everyone involved is under the age of 24 a civil penalty. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Jackson Locality: Radford

I urge members to consider the repeal of simple possession should take effect July 1, 2021. This would begin the process of helping those who have faced legal issues with simple possession in the past. Marijuana legalization must be equitable. We must right wrongs and help minorities who have been targeted with harsher punishment when it comes to marijuana possession. Taking a social justice stance to marijuana legalization must be part of our goal.

Last Name: Flick Locality: Tazewell County ~ Town of Pocahontas

Please allow for small businesses to vertically integrate based on the size of their operation. This licensing model is already being used in Michigan. Michigan allows for a cannabis microbusiness license. The Michigan microbusiness license allows a licensee to cultivate up to 150 plants, process those plants into concentrates, edibles, or other products, package those end products, and sell those products to customers of legal age. Virginia should adopt a similar license. The main deterrent for getting a small business license is the cost and confusing applications. Please make sure these costs do not reach above $250.00 per license, with that dollar amount being on the high end and the application process very simple. I also would like to add; to put an end to the Marijuanna Prohibition you must not make new laws and fines. This is defeating the entire purpose. I appreciate the consideration.

Last Name: Booker Locality: Richmond

Repeal marijuana prohibition for simple possession under an ounce now. Do not criminalize another generation of youth and young adults for marijuana possession. Expungement must be far reaching, free, and without barriers. No new crimes for marijuana usage in a vehicle. Ban vertical integration.

Last Name: Silva Locality: Alexandria

My name is Rebecca and I am a resident of Alexandria. Please legalize simple possession of marijuana and expunge all non-violent records. Virginia’s failed “war on drugs” has hurt Black communities and poor communities disappropriately across the state, and it is fundamentally immoral. HB 2312 is the first step to ending this war and making amends. As a person who has lived in places where marijuana is legal, I can attest firsthand that as a substance it can be used safely for medical and recreational purposes. Better yet, I would also like to see the state move even further by legalizing and regulating the substance, and directing the collected taxes to be used as reparations to fund Black and marginalized communities in the state.

Last Name: Weeber Locality: Richmond

Treat minors in possession of marijuana as "children in need of services," not "juvenile delinquents." Repeal the mandatory "zero tolerance" expulsion policy for students with marijuana in school grounds. Make "intent to distribute" when everyone involved is under the age of 24 a civil penalty.

Last Name: Cardoso Locality: Virginia Beach

It is imperative that Virginia move forward with legalizing possession of marijuana and expunging the records of those who have been charged with carrying less than one ounce. It has been proven time and again that marijuana laws disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities.

Last Name: Jansons Locality: Blacksburg VA

Please legalize the simple possession of marijuana of under one ounce effective July 1, 2021. My friend was just diagnosed with cancer in December and has started chemotherapy treatments. Marijuana is well documented to help in the treatment of many maladies. In the case of cancer and chemotherapy, it helps ease the nausea induced by the chemo, but it’s not available. Thank you for your consideration and your service.

Last Name: Carter Locality: Alexandria

Virginia should legalize marijuana following Colorado's example. It's a cash cow. Many Virginians already have access via black market or crossing borders. Virginia should take advantage of its own state tax benefits, money for school programs and COVID budget shortfalls, less distraction for law enforcement, and remove the tremendously unfair effects on the Black community. As a white mother I've counseled my children about how unfair the police are to Black people. Illegal pot is rooted in systemic racism and lobbying dollars in the alcohol and cigarette markets. Marijuana should be legal just like alcohol and cigarettes. Let Virginians have the freedom of choice.

Last Name: Carter Organization: Self Locality: Alexandria

As a legal resident of Virginia since 1993, I fully support the passage of HB2312. The legalization of marijuana/cannibas makes sense legally, economically, morally and medically. Other states have shown the benefits in all the categories above, so let's move forward.

Last Name: Gagorik Locality: Richmond

Good afternoon. It is both a moral and financial imperative that we make valuable strides towards cannabis legalization and end the disastrous War on Drugs. For too long we have criminalized a plant and locked citizens away for simple, non violent drug offenses such as possession. This must end, and this legislation is a step in the right direction. As a citizen and lifelong resident of Virginia I am in support of legalization. For too long people have color have been unevenly and unfairly punished for possessing and using Cannabis, and legalization and decriminalization would free up law enforcement officals to better direct their efforts and focus towards real, violent crime. Further, in such a day when wearing a mask is seen as taking away individual freedom, it seems unreconcilable to me that we as a society quite literally are okay with taking someones actual freedom for an Ounce (the weight of 1 USD Bill) or less! I am not okay with that. These are people. Fathers Mothers Brothers and Sisters, friends and family that are no longer present at the dinner table because they got pulled over with a bag of weed in the car. What substance a person chooses to use is no more a concern for the government than buying a six pack or a pack of smokes, providing they fit legal and safe criteria for use. (Proper age and dont drive) The laws should not say you cant have Sprite on Wednesday, or any other such banality. They should be for our protection and well-being. Who does criminalizing a plant help? Finally, it is an economic boon that is simply too big to ignore. Virginia should join the growing list of states legalizing, and benefit from the taxes off the industry, which would create jobs and bring in more revenue. Turning your back on the market forces it underground, enabaling sketchy back alley deals, unverified products, and strains on our prisons, law enforcement officers, and our communities.

Last Name: Khaddage Locality: Henrico

immediately legalize simple possession under 1oz, effective July 1, 2021.

Last Name: King Locality: Richmond

Any legislation must come from an equity lens. We must legalize any simple possession under 1 oz. so as not to continue to criminalize a new generation of cannabis users. Real legislation is retroactive and provides automatic expungement of past convictions to restore the harm done to individuals and entire communities, especially overpoliced black and brown communities. Any taxation should involve reparations to communities that have been harmed to repair damages caused to the legacy market. Lastly any government sanctioned regulation of the cannabis market should ensure that those most impacted by the War on Drugs have a stake in the market, not just employment but ownership. This means black ownership and brown ownership. This bill has aspects of change needed but certainly is far from repairing the historic harms of marijuana criminalization. All bills need to be crafted and enacted from an equity lens.

Last Name: Copeland Locality: Chesterfield

Marijuana possession should be legalized. It never should have been illegal. It is horrifying that so many Virginian’s have become involved with the criminal justice system due to possession of marijuana. These people are not criminals and I should not have to be supporting those who are incarcerated for this reason with my tax dollars when many would be productive, contributing members of society, otherwise. Prohibitions on far more dangerous substances like alcohol would be a better use of taxpayer dollars.

Last Name: Burchett Locality: Spotsylvania

I am sole caregiver for wife with Alzheimer’s. It is back breaking work, plus I believe witnessing her decline over 5 years has left me with PTSD. That said, with constant back pain, neuropathy and stress, marijuana provides relief without having to use addictive pharmaceuticals. I’m a law abiding citizen yet because of being illegal use makes me a criminal. I had used off and on recreationally for close to 50 years, no health issues. It is time to legalize and regulate a legal marijuana market. The tax revenue would be beneficial to the State, and many otherwise law abiding citizens would no longer be criminals and free up jail space for real criminals. Jailing people costs money too. It would be a win-win for all.

Last Name: Ford Locality: Fort Worth

Time to end prohibition on marijuana. It has been proven to be medically efficient and it doesn't cause anger issues. Remove all peoples records of convictions and release from jails and prisons all persons convicted of such. Our legal system is grossly o er populated and out of control. This will help tremendously with that problem.

Last Name: Konstas Organization: Marijuana Justice Locality: Fairfax County - Springfield

As Virginia moves forward with cannabis legalization we must look to our recent past, "the war on drugs." The General Assembly must be committed to repairing the harm and injustice of past legislation of marijuana concerning racial inequities. So as not further expand the gulf of social mobility among Virginians I ask that the House Courts of Justice Committee will move forward with legislation that: 1. Repeals marijuana prohibition for simple possession under an ounce - now, 2. Does not criminalize another generation of youth and young adults for marijuana possession, 3. Provides far-reaching - free and without barriers - expungement. 4. Ends any new crimes for marijuana usage in a vehicle. In legalizing cannabis Virginia is offering an opportunity for some Virginians to prosper, while others (primarily Black Virginians) are burdened by past legislation.

Last Name: Chakwin Locality: Clackamas County, Oregon

Marijuana has been legal in Oregon for almost 7years. During this time, no one was arrested for possession. No one had a criminal record, turned down for employment or rentals due to this criminal record. Lives are long. A criminal record is forever. Shouldn't the people of Virginia have this safety? Lives ruined can impact future children, the ability of a parent to support them, provide shelter.

Last Name: Ace Locality: Virginia Beach

Thank you to the committee, my name is Ace from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I am here to encourage you on the following points in legalizing cannabis right: 1. Repeal Marijuana prohibition for simple possession of under an ounce NOW and not wait for the commercial market. 2. Do not criminalize another generation of youth and young adults for possessing marijuana. 3. Only “impacted people” eligible for expungement will qualify to participate in the industry, expungement must be far-reaching, free, and without barriers. 4. No new crimes for marijuana in the car, the current DUI laws are sufficient.

Last Name: Chamandy Locality: Arlington

Please ensure the following items are part of this initiative. - Legalization of possession of an ounce or less. - Legalization of home grows of 12+ plants. - Expungement of criminal records. - Prioritized opportunities for past offenders, BIPOC, and Virginians. - No vertical integration. - No out of state companies. - No new crimes related to marijuana. - Prioritization of restorative justice for groups impacted by the war on drugs. - Usage of funds raised from taxes for infrastructure, schools, community services, and providing grants for previous offenders to start legitimate businesses in the industry. - Quality assurance programs for medicinal and recreational marijuana that include testing for heavy metals, bacteria, mold, pesticides, herbicdes, fungicides, and other contaminants. - Encourage environmentally sustainable business practices and provide business credits for using renewable energy, optimizing water usage, and sustainable agricultural practices.

Last Name: Fenton Locality: Charlottesville

I am in favor of fair and equitable cannabis legalization.

Last Name: Fadeley Locality: Albemarle

I am in favor of legalization. I urge you to vote in favor of marijuana legalization in Virginia.

Last Name: Spangenberg Locality: Richmond

Legalize all simple possession of marijuana under 1 OZ immediately. From a social worker in Richmond.

Last Name: Bates Locality: Prince Edward

This legislation is necessary to improve the Commonwealth's standard of equity. This legislation will also contribute to much needed economic growth. Other states & localities have legalized marijuana successfully. Virginia needs to again lead the charge in the South.

Last Name: Long Locality: Charlottesville

My name is Maryann Long. I am a retired midwife and a resident of Charlottesville. I urge the Delegates to immediately legalize simple possession of a small amount (less than 1 ounce) of marijuana, effective on July 1, 2021. Decriminalization with fines still has the potential to unfairly burden people of color who are more likely to be noticed and apprehended. It does not go far enough. Moreover, it's absurd to make everyone wait until the whole process for management of sales, taxation, distribution and so forth is complete and ready to begin, which could be up to 3 years from now. Thank you .

Last Name: Surratt Locality: Richmond

Greetings Chair Herring and Committee members, I am writing to ask that you please continue to do the important work of legalizing marijuana right in Virginia. It is critical that our legislation end and address the past harm caused to Black and brown folks and make the important decisions on what is needed for equity and justice moving forward. As such, I believe that it is important that we not set up any new structures, policies or laws that may cause ongoing harm. You have many things to consider before you and I trust you all to do the hard work to make careful decisions in moving this legislation forward. Some of the items I ask that you include are: -legalizing simple possession under 1 oz. effective 7/1/21 -treat youths as "children in need of services," not "juvenile delinquents" -expunge, automatically & without cost, marijuana felonies & misdemeanors Thank you for your hard work this session and for your critical attention to legalizing it right in Virginia!

Last Name: Criqui Locality: Richmond

Marijuana legalization cannot wait years, we need to move forward as a commonwealth now and to fully legalize possession of marijuana of any quantity and finally end a policy that has done so much unnecessary harm to the people of our state for far too long. We all know that this natural plant is far less harmful than alcohol and has far more real and proven benefits which the state has endorsed through its medical program and allowing the use of CBD in an over the counter capacity. It makes no more sense to punish someone for having any quantity of marijuana in their possession than it would to punish someone for having a fridge full of beer, despite the fact that we know that the over consumption of alcohol is far more dangerous and has killed many. For far too long people have been incarcerated and their lives destroyed without just cause and its time for us to move forward as a state now. We can't wait for 2023 we need full legalization in 2021. We need to let adults make their own decisions about their own lives and stop allowing this plant to be a tool for over-policing and targeting communities of color. Nothing short of immediate full legalization without limit to quantity or commerce will accomplish that. Virginians have been smoking and growing marijuana since the founding fathers, its time to stop the madness of an unrealistic and failed policy of prohibition. Let the people buy and sell and posses this plant like any other crop. End marijuana prohibition undo the decades of harm it has causes, retroactively overturn all convictions for possession and release all those incarcerated for this most benign of intoxicants. We can move forward, boost our economy, and realize greater justice with just one act. Full Legalization for adults, of any quantity, with the right to grow and buy and sell now in 2021.

Last Name: Schultz Organization: N/A Locality: Reston

Respectfully request the decriminalization and legalization of simple possession of marijuana. And to continued work to fully legalize and tax marijuana in the future. Also please allow for the automatic expungement or dismissal of charges related to simple possession. Thank you

Last Name: Birdwell Locality: Virginia Beach

Legalizing marijuana would help SO MANY people suffering from pain & anxiety in a less destructive manner than alcohol, which is as easy as pie to obtain and abuse. Associating it with super harmful drugs like cocaine when its medicinal benefits far outweigh such things is shameful.

Last Name: Keuntje Locality: Prince William County

I am a resident living in zip code 22192 and I strongly support fully legalizing marijuana under 1oz in July 1 of 2021. Furthermore, I support FULL legalization of any amount with expungement of criminal records for anyone arrested or imprisoned for crimes related to marijuana. We should also have a plan for reparations to help folks harmed by the laws. It’s critical that we take this opportunity to lift people rather than just make the rich richer.

Last Name: Jessee Locality: Richmond City

I am demanding that you repair the harm of the war on drugs. I demand that there will be NO NEW CRIMES for marijuana usage in a vehicle. I demand that you repeal the marijuana prohibition for simple possession under an ounce NOW. I demand that you DO NOT CRIMINALIZE another generation of youth and young adults for marijuana possession! Change begins now. These laws must change. Expungement must be far-reaching, free and without barriers.

Last Name: Wilson Organization: UFCW Local 400 Locality: Washington

Chair Herring and members of the Courts of Justice Committee. I write on behalf of the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 400. We represent over 10,000 members in Virginia who work in retail food, food service, food processing and healthcare. Nationally, UFCW represents over 1.3 million hard-working men and women who work in highly regulated industries including the emerging legal cannabis industry. Our cannabis members can be found across multiple states , including in Maryland and the District of Columbia. UFCW Local 400 supports HB 2312 as reported out of the General Laws Committee and urges the addition of labor peace agreements as a condition of cannabis licensure and renewal. Labor peace agreements protect businesses, workers, and consumers, and are an effective regulatory tool for the state. The ability to suspend or revoke the license of an operator who is not neutral when their employees are attempting to unionize, does not pay the prevailing wage, or attempts to classify over 10% of their employees as independent contractors, is a huge step in the right direction. There is no equity for employees in this industry if they are wrongfully denied representation and a voice on the job. Labor peace agreements would take employees the rest of the way by leaving no doubt that adult cannabis employers will respect the rights of their workforce, giving those employees the ability to equitably share in this new industry. The amendment in the substitute bill we recommend is: Add to 4.1-606B as a new 18 between line 6809 and 6810: 18. Establish requirements for all license applicants to submit an attestation signed by a bona fide labor organization stating that the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with such bona fide labor organization. The maintenance of a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization shall be an ongoing material condition of maintaining a marijuana cultivation, marijuana manufacturing, marijuana testing, marijuana wholesaler, or marijuana retail store license. In reviewing initial license applications, the commission shall give priority to the following: (i) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents, or is actively seeking to represent, cannabis workers in Virginia. (ii) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents cannabis workers in another state. (iii) Applicants that include a significantly involved person or persons lawfully residing in Virginia for at least two year as of the date of the application. (iv) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming that they will use best efforts to utilize union building trades labor organizations in the construction or retrofit of the facilities associated with the permitted entity. (v) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming they have a project labor agreement, or will utilize a project labor agreement, which is a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering the terms and conditions of a specific project, including labor issues and worker grievances associated with any construction or retrofit of facilities, or other applicable project, associated with the licensed entity. Add to 4.1-900 under 1p as a new (iv) in line 7584: (iv) Failing to maintain a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.

Last Name: Zeller Organization: Dominion Cannabis Locality: Oakton

Dominion Cannabis is honored to bring our cannabis production, distribution, and sales business to Virginia. Our team has years of experience operating in the cannabis market in multiple states. Below, we have identified some common challenges businesses and governments experience when establishing a regulated cannabis market. Top Barriers to Entry • Money required to receive license • % tax going to local town o How much? (3% in MA) • Licensing Board o Should be staffed early and robustly to handle the demand • Controlled and regulated rollout o Want to match the demand with the supply but not at the cost of quality and sustainable growth • Banking o A state -chartered bank would allow for ease of business, secure transactions, and attract seasoned companies and operators • Social Equity component o A program for communities negatively affected by past cannabis convictions o Local talent and labor o Equity sharing program o Special program for Veterans and first responders o Training and mentoring programs Cultivation Facilities There should building standards for these facilities. They should not be built according the licensee’s budget which in many cases turns out to be very poor quality. These standards should be set up to make these facilities close to a medical facility. This will help on quality control in the long run. There should also be standards for the wastewater, condensate water, fertigation requirements, odor control, utility consumption, as well as OSHA standards. Dispensaries Roll Out to Public The opening of new dispensaries should be done in a systematic way so that multiple dispensaries open on the same day in different counties throughout the state of Virginia. This would prevent one of two dispensaries opening in the state and have a large population flock to these dispensaries for weeks at a time causing public safety issue. Testing Agencies Testing has become an issue in Massachusetts because it was not thought through properly. The MA industry allowed more dispensaries to open than the current cultivation facilities could supply. To compound this there were not enough testing facilities in the state to support the products being sold which caused a slowdown in products getting to market. Farming There are a myriad of pitfalls which complicate the development of the marijuana market in any given state. How does one bring in marijuana plants and seeds into a state to begin growing them if it is a schedule 1 substance? Answer: people have to break the law and smuggle in plants and seeds in order to help establish a legitimate market. This shouldn't be the case. The genetics brought in this way tend not to be the best. Virginia should seek out the best genetics available based on their climate and market demands. How does one pay for the seed and plants? Most major bank chains don't want anything to do with industrial hemp or cannabis. Cash is dangerous and without a bank, someone will eventually get robbed or killed because the government couldn't create a safe method for these transactions. Money flow will also affect how consumers will purchase the products, how supply chains are managed and ultimately it will determine how quickly your market will be able to grow. We stand ready to assist the Commonwealth as it continues on its cannabis journey. We can be reached anytime at 703-732-9740

Last Name: Winnegan Organization: Cannabis Equity Coalition of Virginia CECVA Locality: Richmond

We oppose total Vertical Integration...but will support Micro Business model...with maybe grandfathering in the present marijuana dispensaries with limits on the number of retail stores they can have...

Last Name: De la rosa Locality: Midlothian

I am in full support of this bill. We need legal home cultivation to equitably help medical and non-medical users alike. Please pass this bill for you constituents and for Virginia. Thank you.

Last Name: Sillmon Locality: Daleville

I fully back HB2312. I am a Virginia medical cannabis patient and would like to continue to have availability of the medical products in if a legalization bill like HB2312 passes. Virginia should plan to regulate medical and adult-use as different entities.

Last Name: Fritz Locality: Roanoke

Virginia needs both recreational dispensaries and a medical cannabis program. One should not conflict with the other. Thank you

Last Name: Vogel Organization: VA NORML Locality: Midlothian

Please don’t pass policy that would harm our medical program.

Last Name: Smith Locality: White Stone

Leader Herring, Mr. Chair and members of the subcommittee. My name is Lisa Smith and my daughter Haley has dravet syndrome, a severe from of epilepsy, and is a medical cannabis patient here in Virginia. In 2015 a group of mothers and I began Virginia’s journey to legal patient access to medical cannabis. We have been involved every step of the way and met with all 140 members of the General Assembly to get this program where it is today. Medical cannabis has changed Haley’s life. Prior to 2015 she had over 1000 Grand Mal seizures a month. Rarely did she live a day without life-threatening seizures. The introduction of medical cannabis has changed her life drastically. She immediately had a 40% reduction in seizures. She basically went from existing to really living with the addition of CBD oils. Not only did this treatment give Haley her life back, it gave OUR FAMILY our lives back. I am happy to say presently Haley has been able to go up to 24 days without a seizures. Unheard of before we started this journey. Virginia’s program requires us to work with registered practitioners and pharmacists to ensure Haley is receiving the medicine that will work best for her. For thousands of patients across the Commonwealth, cannabis is medicine. I am here today asking you to remember the patients and ensure that the medical cannabis processors are included as licensees in the adult use program. States such as Washington and Oregon who set up legalization without considering the medical aspect, left patients across their states in a lurch. Only ONE medical cannabis dispensary remains in Oregon. Please learn from the mistakes of those that have come before us and include the pharmaceutical processors in your adult use program. This is the only way to ensure that patients such as my daughter continue to have access to this life changing medicine while consulting with healthcare professionals in the process. Thank you for your time and consideration this afternoon. Sincerely, Lisa and Haley Smith White Stone

Last Name: Hill Locality: Fairfax

Please don't make policy that would hurt the medical program we rely on. This is important to me and many others like me with chronic medical conditions.

Last Name: Tucker Locality: Albemarle

We are very supportive of HB2312. Please make sure that no items in the bill damage the Medical Program we have now. It has helped thousands of Virginians.

Last Name: Moore Locality: Moseley

I urge you to protect the medical cannabis industry in VA when considering any adult use legalization. These processors are essential to patients in need to have access to their medicine. The current processors are also leaders in the industry and can help provide a path forward to this program in the future.

Last Name: Bellanger Locality: Mechanicsville

It's critical to ensure that the funding for treatment of SUD provided in this bill get into the hands of those who can do the most good for the most people. I'm advocating for these funds to go to non-government organizations that provide peer-based services like recovery residences and recovery community organizations. These organizations allow for same day services for those suffering from SUD, which can mean the difference between life and death.

Last Name: Flick Locality: Pocahontas

Pass something THIS YEAR ~ before federal. Don't make a policy that would hurt our medical program we rely on.

Last Name: Netzel Organization: Virginia Medical Cannabis Patients facebook group admin Locality: Virginia Beach

Please do not make it more difficult for medical cannabis dispensaries to thrive in the market. Medical cannabis already costs me $12,000 out of pocket. I am one of the few lucky ones who can barely afford this! Legalization will make the medical cannabis products more affordable in Virginia, but we still need for the specialization of products to be protected for patients.

Last Name: Tucker Locality: Albemarle

I ask that you support HB2312. We do ask while you support this, please leave our medical program intact. Thank you!

Last Name: Winnegan Organization: CECVA Locality: Richmond

We oppose total vertical integration but will support the Micro Business model...of grandfathering in the 5 medical marijuana facilities all ready awarded and limiting their retail stores to 3...

Last Name: Frierson Organization: Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA - CECVA.org Locality: Richmond, VA

In representing Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA (CCECVA.org) I'd like to share there are specific concerns about existing ideas about the formation of the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board - see details below: Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board § 2.2-2499.1, p. 11-12 Heartburn Caused by his Section: Rarely do government-run and bureaucracy-laden Boards and Commissions genuinely impact the lives of Black and other impacted communities as intended and in very positive ways over time. Too often, too few “common people” are included in these types of entities to the extent they effectively become invisible, cease to attend meetings, and/or feel isolated given the “clubby” nature of these very intimate environments. Typically, the general thought process of Boards and Commissions leans heavily toward the preconceived notions of those making the appointments, while others (ex-officio members in particular) have a sense for the types of outcomes intended, and therefore “go along with the program” of the entire group or person(s) who appointed them to the entity. In the end, and as a result of the items listed above, not much changes in the lives of the very folk who were to be the beneficiaries of efforts of said Boards and Commissions, leading to the complete failure of the overall effort. Know that “common people” out in the streets see the Board/Commission structure as nothing but a scheme, a hackneyed shell-game that results in nothingness for them and their communities, that so often function in the state of desperation. Solution: Ensure a structure formed by laws such that Black leaders and select others serve on the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board (CECVA’s selected title is Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board) in ways that ensure geographic diversity, racial diversity (directly in line with issues revealed in the JLARC Study), and inclusion of persons who have a direct feel for the needs of Blacks and other impacted persons, their families, communities, and institutions. NOTE: See details in CECVA’s Legislative Interest Two (listed in CECVA.org) -- listed below and formed in October 2020. To ensure Virginia’s solutions to the Equity/Social Justice dilemma is both successful and enduring, the Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board should be crafted in ways to be impervious to the changing winds of politics that may occur from Administration to Administration. To help bolster the efforts of a Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board, ex officio participants, as currently listed in the Bill, would be included as support resources in helping to provide expertise and other needed resources, in an advisory-only capacity, to Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board members. The combination of Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board members and the supporting ex officio contingent results in an excellent melding of resources needed to succeed in this effort. To succeed with the very tough “Equity/Social Justice” portions of this legislation, such a structure, along with others, will go a long way to achieving that which not many other states have been able to achieve – while most states governments have failed miserably. After successfully implementing this structure (along with other innovative, out-of-the-box ideas), Virginia’s solutions to the very tough Equity/Social Justice dilemma can become a shining example and model for many other states across America to follow and mimic.

Last Name: Frierson Organization: Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA - CECVA.org Locality: Richmond, VA

In representing Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA (CCECVA.org) I'd like to share there are specific concerns about existing ideas about the formation of the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board - see details below: Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board § 2.2-2499.1, p. 11-12 Heartburn Caused by his Section: Rarely do government-run and bureaucracy-laden Boards and Commissions genuinely impact the lives of Black and other impacted communities as intended and in very positive ways over time. Too often, too few “common people” are included in these types of entities to the extent they effectively become invisible, cease to attend meetings, and/or feel isolated given the “clubby” nature of these very intimate environments. Typically, the general thought process of Boards and Commissions leans heavily toward the preconceived notions of those making the appointments, while others (ex-officio members in particular) have a sense for the types of outcomes intended, and therefore “go along with the program” of the entire group or person(s) who appointed them to the entity. In the end, and as a result of the items listed above, not much changes in the lives of the very folk who were to be the beneficiaries of efforts of said Boards and Commissions, leading to the complete failure of the overall effort. Know that “common people” out in the streets see the Board/Commission structure as nothing but a scheme, a hackneyed shell-game that results in nothingness for them and their communities, that so often function in the state of desperation. Solution: Ensure a structure formed by laws such that Black leaders and select others serve on the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board (CECVA’s selected title is Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board) in ways that ensure geographic diversity, racial diversity (directly in line with issues revealed in the JLARC Study), and inclusion of persons who have a direct feel for the needs of Blacks and other impacted persons, their families, communities, and institutions. NOTE: See details in CECVA’s Legislative Interest Two (listed in CECVA.org) -- listed below and formed in October 2020. To ensure Virginia’s solutions to the Equity/Social Justice dilemma is both successful and enduring, the Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board should be crafted in ways to be impervious to the changing winds of politics that may occur from Administration to Administration. To help bolster the efforts of a Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board, ex officio participants, as currently listed in the Bill, would be included as support resources in helping to provide expertise and other needed resources, in an advisory-only capacity, to Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board members. The combination of Cannabis Community Reinvestment Board members and the supporting ex officio contingent results in an excellent melding of resources needed to succeed in this effort. To succeed with the very tough “Equity/Social Justice” portions of this legislation, such a structure, along with others, will go a long way to achieving that which not many other states have been able to achieve – while most states governments have failed miserably. After successfully implementing this structure (along with other innovative, out-of-the-box ideas), Virginia’s solutions to the very tough Equity/Social Justice dilemma can become a shining example and model for many other states across America to follow and mimic.

Last Name: Cardwell Locality: Roanoke city

Thank you to the committee, my name is Sean Cardwell from Roanoke, Virginia. And I have these thoughts and opinions on HB2312. Section 4.1-626, 1c restricts licensure to any individual convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within 7 years from date of licensure. This will disproportionately impact minorities and the lower class. It is of my opinion that lawmakers should limit the crimes which would restrict a candidate from licensure. You cannot preach social equity and then limit who can participate in the industry. Virginia’s jails and prisons are predominately black and brown and to take those people out of this new industry is un-American. And I hate how cliche that sounds but its true. If this is this land of opportunity and here we have a very new chance for growth and opportunity…don’t take the dream away from those people. Additionally, lawmakers should shorten the period of years between conviction and application from 7 years to 3. If only 400 licenses available, it may not be any licenses available by the time the licenesee is eligable.

Last Name: Brown Organization: CECVA - Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA Locality: Richmond

My name is Billie Brown I am a member of CECVA – Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA CECVA is in support of Del Herrings HB 2312; however, we are advocating that the bill be amended to increase the percentage of tax revenue allocated to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund from 30% to 70%. The Governor’s Bill has allocated 40% of tax revenues to fund Pre-K education. While CECVA is in favor of funding Pre-K…this has always been a direct obligation of Virginia taxpayers from General Fund revenues. CECVA’s position is that all Pre-K funding should continue to be fully supported and funded from General Fund revenues. CECVA strongly advocates that Virginia follow the New Jersey model and allocate 70% of tax revenue received from the Adult Use Marijuana Industry to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund to be used exclusively to help repair families and communities that have been most hurt by Virginia’s War on Drugs. CECVA is also requesting that the committee consider amending the makeup of the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board to be fully reflective of the population it will be serving. Thank you

Last Name: Williams Organization: decriminalize Va Locality: Hampton

support a hybrid model that allows for vertically integrated craft growers, do not support the tiered model as it will raise the cost of operations for social equity retailers and make it impossible to compete with the illicit market. remove employ 10 people from the definition. add an income requirement to economically distressed areas.

Last Name: cullins Organization: decriminalize va Locality: hampton

support a hybrid model that allows for vertically integrated craft growers, do not support the tiered model as it will raise the cost of operations for social equity retailers and make it impossible to compete with the illicit market. remove employ 10 people from the definition. add an income requirement to economically distressed areas.

Last Name: Williams Organization: decriminalize Va Locality: Hampton

1) support a hybrid model that allows for vertically integrated craft growers, do not support the tiered model because it will raise the cost of operations for social equity retailers and make it impossible to compete with the illicit market.

Last Name: Rosenbaum Organization: McShin Foundation Locality: Louisa County

I would like to see half of the tax revenue go to the recovery community (NGO’s). In my 8 1/2 years involved, I have witnessed the McShin Foundation serve and help people with Substance Use Disorders. Their peer to peer recovery program has been documented to be cost effective, saving taxpayers money, and offers same day life saving service. The McShin Foundation has evidence based data to support their work.

Last Name: Brown Organization: Suffolk Locality: Richmond

I am a founding member of CECVA-Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA. CECVA is in support of Del Herring's HB 2312; however, we are advocating that the bill be amended to increase the percentage of tax revenue allocated to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund from 30% to 70%. The Governor's bill has allocated 40% of tax revenues to fund Pre-K education. While CECVA is in favor of funding Pre-K...this has always been a direct obligation of Virginia taxpayers from General funds revenues. CECVA's position is that all Pre-K funding should continue to be fully supported and and funded from General Fund revenue. CECVA strongly advocates that Virginia follow the New Jersey model and allocate 70% or tax revenue received from the Adult Use Marijuana Industry to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund to be used exclusively to help repair families and communities that have been most hurt by Virginia's war on drugs. CECVA is also requesting that the committee consider amending the makeup of the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board to be fully reflective of the population it will be serving.

Last Name: Hilliard Organization: Grow Up VA Locality: Richmond

Thank you to the committee, my name is Willie Hilliard from Richmond, Va . I'm reaching out to you today to encourage you to : 1. Ban Vertical Integration.. Vertically integrated operations are monopoly structures which decrease ownership opportunities for the many and are more likely to be acquired by big out of state conglomerates. 2. Demand that Social Equity Licenses make up at least half of all licenses approved. This will ensure some sort of equitable compensation to the communities most affected by over policing and racist policies. 3. Ensure that all licenses be given to Virginia residents only. Big Canna is waiting to pounce on our system once it becomes law. They will be a serious threat to small businesses trying to find their place in this industry, basically threatening their existence. 4. Remove the Social Equity loophole that requires the hiring of 10 impacted Virginia residents to acquire said license. This loophole will give people jobs but not the opportunity to build their own generational wealth. 5. Dedicate 70 percent of revenue to the reinvestment fund. Anything less will jeapordize the impact of the fund's social initiatives. I ask that you please consider these requests as we want Virginia to be the model for Social Equity for the rest of the country. Thank you

Last Name: McDermott Organization: Faces and Voice of Recovery (FAVOR) of Virginia | www.favorva.org Locality: Maidens

Prohibition didn't work for Alcohol, and it hasn't for Marijuana, which is less of a contributing substance to Substance Use Disorder (SUD). If legalized, this bill proposes 25% of Marijuana tax revenues to "substance use disorder prevention and treatment programs," but doesn't specify program types. The recovery community would like to see a specified "split" of this 25%, with at least half of it going to non-governmental organizations (NGO's) delivering evidence-based lived experience SUD recovery services. I am an individual with more than 29 years of continuous sustained recovery from SUD. First hand, I have witnessed evidence-based lived experience SUD recovery services, which for the most part have been unfunded, or grossly underfunded, consistently deliver better outcomes than government services.

Last Name: McDermott Organization: FAVOR of Virginia Locality: Maidens

Prohibition didn't work for Alcohol, and it hasn't for Marijuana, which is less of a contributing substance to Substance Use Disorder (SUD). If legalized, this bill proposes 25% of Marijuana tax revenues to "substance use disorder prevention and treatment programs," but doesn't specify program types. The recovery community would like to see a specified "split" of this 25%, with at least half of it going to non-governmental organizations (NGO's) delivering evidence-based lived experience SUD recovery services. I am an individual with more than 29 years of continuous sustained recovery from SUD. First hand, I have witnessed evidence-based lived experience SUD recovery services, which for the most part have been unfunded, or grossly underfunded, consistently deliver better outcomes than government services.

Last Name: Wilson Organization: UFCW Local 400 Locality: Washington

Good afternoon Chair Krizek and members of the General Laws – ABC/Gaming Subcommittee. I am here today on behalf of the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Local 400. We represent over 10,000 members in Virginia who work in retail food, food service, food processing and healthcare. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon. Nationally, UFCW represents over 1.3 million hard-working men and women who work in highly regulated industries including the emerging legal cannabis industry. Our cannabis members can be found across multiple states in growing and cultivating facilities, manufacturing, and processing facilities, and in laboratories and dispensaries, including in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Wherever cannabis is legalized, the UFCW is committed to building family sustaining jobs and a strong, diverse, and skilled workforce. As I said on Tuesday night, we strongly support Delegate Herring's bill and the legalization of adult use cannabis with strong social equity protections for ownership with the industry and the inclusion of our proposed amendment that would provide equity in employment by ensuring a voice for workers within this new industry. The specific language change in the substitute bill we would recommend is: Add to 4.1-606B as a new 18 between line 6548 and 6549 to read: 18. Establish requirements for all license applicants to submit an attestation signed by a bona fide labor organization stating that the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with such bona fide labor organization. The maintenance of a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization shall be an ongoing material condition of maintaining a marijuana cultivation, marijuana manufacturing, marijuana testing, marijuana wholesaler, or marijuana retail store license. In reviewing initial license applications, the commission shall give priority to the following: (i) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents, or is actively seeking to represent, cannabis workers in Virginia. (ii) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents cannabis workers in another state. (iii) Applicants that include a significantly involved person or persons lawfully residing in Virginia for at least two year as of the date of the application. (iv) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming that they will use best efforts to utilize union building trades labor organizations in the construction or retrofit of the facilities associated with the permitted entity. (v) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming they have a project labor agreement, or will utilize a project labor agreement, which is a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering the terms and conditions of a specific project, including labor issues and worker grievances associated with any construction or retrofit of facilities, or other applicable project, associated with the licensed entity. It would also add to 4.1-900 under 1 as a new p between lines 7328 and 7329 to read: p. Failing to maintain a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Last Name: Suit Locality: Virginia Beach

A microbusiness license is the missing link of the licensing scheme of HB 2312. The subcommittee has been debating whether or not to allow vertical integration in the marijuana industry. The main concern that delegates have voiced regarding vertical integration is that a few large vertically integrated companies will dominate the new legal cannabis industry. However, vertical integration should not be confused with monopolization. In the cannabis industry, vertical integration is a way for businesses to make and sell their own products from plants they grow. A vertically integrated business is not inherently a large company. In fact, banning vertical integration is a limitation that would make more small businesses likely to fail. If vertical integration is banned, then a farmer cannot sell his product to a consumer; a processor cannot use her own strains for her products; a retailer cannot grow flower for their own boutique brand. These are limitations that would be extremely harmful to businesses in similar industries. For example, if a vineyard were not allowed to vertically integrate, then a vineyard owner could grow grapes, but could not make wine. Or, a vineyard could make wine, but only from another vineyard’s grapes, and then could not sell that wine to consumers. By the same token, a craft brewery could not make and sell their own beer. Banning vertical integration wouldn’t make sense for other industries, and it doesn’t make sense for cannabis, either. A hybrid approach with an option for cannabis microbusiness licenses is the best way to accomplish the subcommittee’s goals and to create an environment where more small businesses can succeed. During the January 28 subcommittee meeting, the representative for the JLARC study suggested a hybrid model of licensing that would allow for small businesses to vertically integrate based on the size of their operation. This licensing model is already being used in Michigan. Michigan allows for a cannabis microbusiness license. The Michigan microbusiness license allows a licensee to cultivate up to 150 plants, process those plants into concentrates, edibles, or other products, package those end products, and sell those products to customers of legal age. Virginia should adopt a similar license. A microbusiness license is a sensible addition that would solve multiple issues. First off, it would limit vertical integration only to small businesses. This is the guardrail that would prevent a few large companies from dominating the industry. Second, a microbusiness license allows for more small businesses to enter the industry. In essence this license carves out room for “mom and pop” shops, which benefits social equity and is exactly what the committee hopes to encourage. Third, it allows for small businesses to grow into larger businesses. A company can start as a microbusiness, do everything from seed to sale, and as they grow they can decide whether to remain a microbusiness or to specialize in one of the licensed segments. With a microbusiness license, a small business’s potential for growth would not be needlessly limited, and it would allow small businesses to figure out what they are best at doing without boxing themselves into only one segment of the industry from the start. Thank you for your time and consideration of my comments. I hope that this is helpful in crafting the legislation to legalize marijuana.

Last Name: Denekas Locality: Roanoke

Members of the Virginia Legislature and Governor Northam: I am writing to you to discourage in the strongest terms the legalization of marijuana, specifically SB 1406, HB 1815 and HB 2312 and other bills legalizing the non-medical use of marijuana. Discussion of regulation of marijuana production puts the cart before the horse. While not as acutely lethal as "harder" drugs, it more dangerous than alcohol and should be treated as such. The following are documented negative effects of marijuana: Medical effects: 4 x risk of heart attack during intoxication Increased long-term risk of vascular disease, heart attack, stroke with chronic use Respiratory problems: , bronchitis, respiratory infections, asthma, COPD Cyclic vomiting (cannabis hyperemesis syndrome), electrolyte disorders and dehydration Impaired cognition, coordination and complex decision-making; increased MVC, trauma Testicular atrophy “Lacing”, pesticides and other contaminants - polydrug intoxications/overdoses Pediatric risks: Second-hand smoke exposure Medical, respiratory infections, asthma Psychiatric, developmental issues; exposure of developing brain Unsecured confections with marijuana ingested by children Increased risk of hospitalization due to intoxication Domestic abuse/neglect Psychiatric effects: Schizophrenia Psychosis; acute psychotic episodes leading to psychiatric hospitalization Depression Suicide Memory and cognitive impairment Decreased school performance Social effects: Poverty Homelessness/Vagrancy Poor parenting: intoxication, drug availability, unsecured firearms Poor parenting: spending money on drugs rather than essentials Domestic abuse & violence Crime: to support habit; violent crime and murder due to psychosis Support of drug dealers and cartels; gang activity Addiction/Co-addictions Gateway drug - leads to “harder” drugs: amphetamines, opioids, many others. Disproportionately affects minority communities. DUI/MVC: Increased vehicular trauma, fatalities, hospitalizations Increased ER visits and hospitalizations - takes beds from COVID patients Threefold increase in use following legalization Political/Economic Aspects: $8-20 billion in taxpayer funds just in infrastructure/regulatory costs Businesses investing in marijuana States wanting tax revenue from marijuana Both downplay harmful effects Mixed messaging: DARE, drug-danger education vs. legislation promoting drugs Spending taxpayer funds in both directions These comments are based on thirty years of experience in emergency medicine, the accounts of family members in Colorado, family contacts who have been in the drug world and medical educational resources. We should also learn from the sad experiences of the other states which have legalized marijuana. On one hand, you are working so hard to decrease poverty, homelessness, crime, gang activity, domestic violence, child abuse and medical costs. On the other hand, you are in the process of passing legislation that will only increase all the things you are trying to get rid of! This is a devastating and wasteful self-contradiction. I urge you in the strongest terms not to pass this legislation, as these devastating effects will certainly outweigh any potential benefits, including financial ones. Sincerely, Alan Denekas, MD Roanoke References to follow.

Last Name: O’Steen Locality: Chesterfield County

This legislation on Herring’s HB2312 is a must to support but now without revisions and amendments. For over 100 years there is definite racial bias when it comes to the “War on Drugs” or more specifically the war on marijuana. How we think, write and talk about marijuana has been negatively perpetuated through negative racial bias dictated to how politicians draft and send bills for possible legalization. It is one thing to legalize but a whole other perspective to legalize it right. More than 300 billion dollars has been wasted on the incarceration and war on marijuana possessions. 2020 was a year of racial reckoning in our country of United Sates. There is absolute no denying of 2 America’s one for whiteness and one for others. 2020 was a year of the realization of progressive racial equity centered policies and laws that must take place. I support the ACLU and Marijuana Justice organizations. 1) We must not criminalize our youth and all such should be repealed. If our youth are our future then we must invest in them and provide the resources that not only they need but their families to be able to live a just life. 2) Repeal the prohibition on simple possession. As stated by the ACLU “When people are arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, it can have dire collateral consequences that affect their eligibility for public housing and student aid, employment opportunities, child custody determinations, and immigration status.” Simply put, it can completely destroy not only one individuals life but an entire community especially people of color. 3) There must be an independent cannabis agency. Racial equity logically has to be centered in any talks about legalization of marijuana. Another government run agency will 100% involve over policing, more new derogatory assimilationist laws and further perpetuated trauma black and brown communities face. Virginia must be better than Illinois and other states where it is legal. When in doubt, communities themselves know exactly what they need. 4) Hiring 10 people should NOT allow someone for an equity license. Black and brown people are not a checkbox that businesses, institutions and agencies can check off in order to keep going about their daily business. If Virginia wants to start building relationships within these communities than please have unlimited seats available to listen and pass legislation that doesn’t undermine these communities and people. Do better! 5) Legalize horizontal integration 6) Only 30% of the tax revenue reinvested back into these communities is another form of assimilationist policy. The details are everything, even the smallest. Black and brown communities have been not been just hurt or damaged but desecrated by local and state law-enforcement and lawmakers. 70% is just. Injustices are happening right now as you debate this legislation. Moving from 30% to 70% into the Cannabis Equity Fund will help start the healing and funding of resources, programs, grants, scholarships directly to the communities. BIPOC people cannot be left behind anymore. Be mindful of the details and discussions on the legalization of marijuana in VA. Be on the side of your constituents and not against them. Be for the people and communities that are being unheard. As a citizen of Virginia and full supporter of legalization of marijuana I, we are watching closely. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Griffith Locality: City of Virginia Beach

I support the bill but ONLY with significant changes including removing the new crimes specifically targeting minors, allowing horizontal integration ONLY rather than vertical integration, removing the language that allows corporations the same social equity benefits as individuals simply by employing those who have been effected by cannabis criminalization, and most critical, is that the ABC has no business being involved in the cannabis industry and should NOT be the regulatory body in charge of regulating and enforcing the industry. The ABC has a history of aggression and law enforcement agents significantly outweigh regulators. In order for the industry to be created with true integrity, there should be a completely separate, newly created regulatory body that regulates cannabis and cannabis ONLY. Many people fear that with the ABC in control, there will still be a laser focus on crimes rather than regulations, which, if we are truly aiming toward social equity and undoing the wrongs done to those affected by cannabis criminalization, focusing on enforcing new erroneous laws created by the ABC only opens the possibility of minority businesses to be discriminately targeted on another level. A new regulatory agency could take it's time in hiring professionals with experience in this new industry (to Virginia, but established in other states) and really establish realistic and well considered regulations that will specifically benefit yet control the adult use industry.

Last Name: Tucker Locality: Albemarle

Delegates and Staff, thank you for taking comment. My name is Elly Tucker. I am a medical cannabis patient. I am asking that you support HB2312. To me, this is an equity issue. We have had Medical Cannabis since July. The program is working really well. The problem though is it is cost prohibitive to many citizens of the Commonwealth because the oil (albeit effective) is too expensive for many residents. When legalized, it is important that the botanical form (the flower) be available. We should not make acquiring cannabis products prohibitively expensive to a segment of the market, by offering a less expensive alternative form of cannabis—the botanical. Thank you again for allowing comment.

Last Name: Isaac Organization: Marijuana Justice VA Locality: Richmond

Thank you to the committee, my name is Naomi Isaac, I am from Richmond, Virginia and a representative of the cannabis advocacy group, Marijuana Justice VA. I am here to encourage you all to prioritize social equity when it comes to cannabis legalization, so that we can ensure that those who have been most harmed by the War on Drugs benefit most. An equity-first approach to marijuana legalization means that communities who have endured the most violence and divestment from cannabis prohibition have a fair opportunity to participate in the cannabis industry. This means establishing an independent Cannabis agency rather than depending on the VABC which is a law enforcement agency, that is already overwhelmed with its responsibilities, and has historically been an enforcer of prohibition and the War on Drugs. We know that increased interaction with any kind of law enforcement increases the likelihood of violence and arrest for Black and Brown people, and this includes the VABC whose agents were responsible for assaulting Black UVA student, Martese Johnson, just as recently as 2015 An equity-first approach to marijuana legalization means that communities who have endured the most violence and divestment from cannabis prohibition have a fair opportunity to participate in the cannabis industry. However, the current proposal allows for an applicant to hold up to 4 licenses simply by paying a fee of $250,000 while there are no other protections for those who have access to little wealth, and we know those people are more likely to Black, Brown, and low-income. It is for that reason that I encourage the Committee to legislate horizontal integration in order to dismantle these barriers to participation, and prevent multi-state operators and others who have been least impacted by the prohibition from having a monopoly on licensure. An equity-first approach also means tightening the restrictions for who can qualify for social equity licenses. Hiring 10 impacted folks should not qualify someone to be eligible for a social equity license. Additionally, I also encourage the Committee to increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis Control Advisory from one impacted person to at least three. A one person limitation affects the extent to which the perspectives and experiences of impacted communities can be properly incorporated into marijuana regulation.

Last Name: Bland Organization: We Rise to Legalize Locality: New York

It’s difficult to watch government machinations be used to avoid addressing the systemic racism inherent in state and federal policy. Every single reform movement in this country has been powered by the Black American struggle. From the abolition movement where negro labor built this country for free to the civil rights movement where the blood of Dr. King and others led to progressive policies that we all have benefited from. Even today, President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are sitting in leadership because Black Americans stood against racism after the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Greg Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, and others. We come to those same leaders asking for fairness and reform: end Slavery & associated racial inequality; end the War on Drugs and offer negroes an opportunity to build wealth and restore their communities. Those same electeds shut off communication but meet with corporate elite behind closed doors and throw you a Harriet Tubman $20. #FairnessIsReform @WeRiseToLegalize LDB

Last Name: Hill Organization: We Rise to Legalize Locality: New York

An exclusion of Black and Brown people in the business of Medical Cannabis seem to be the same systemic ‘pattern and practice’ of exclusion similar to those seen in other States across the US. These bills (ie. HB2312) and laws simply do not address disparities created in areas impacted by the War On Drugs. We Rise to Legalize believes access to Medical Cannabis is an essential health care need and any policy that deprives access based on Race, either intentional or by disparate impact, is discriminatory and a Civil Rights violation. We Rise to Legalize and its supporters have communicated this view to several states and have warned of the collateral consequences associated with the lack of access on impacted communities. J. Hill WeRisetoLegalize.org #WeRisetoLegalize #RoadtoRestoration #WeRiseAction #FairNessIsReform

Last Name: Helbert Locality: Stuart

I do not need to speak. I would like to hear what is discussed and it's possible I may submit written comments after. I am a Board member of the DrugFreeMHC coalition for Martinsville/Henry County. I represent Henry County Department of Public Safety on that board.

Last Name: Whitsett Organization: Substance Abuse Free Environment, Inc. (SAFE) Locality: Chesterfield County

SAFE opposes HB2312. Why are we turning VA over to Big Marijuana? Decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana up to 1 ounce became legal just 6 months ago. We've already seen the adverse effects of this on our roadways with increased DUIDs and traffic crashes. Marijuana legalization will create more drug impaired driving fatalities. The Board of Pharmacy has been setting up pharmaceutical processors for CBD, THCA, low THC oils in VA since 2017 to enable patients to have pharmacist approved products. Marijuana legalization will make high potency THC products available to VA citizens. This will possibly cause drug to drug interaction if people consume THC with other medications. There is still an opioid epidemic in VA. There were 6 overdoses in 72 hours in Chesterfield County last weekend. First Responders are already strained from this crisis. Marijuana legalization will create more poisonings of children, more mental health episodes, more injuries and car crashes, which will exhaust our First Responders even more. Finally, we are in the middle of a Pandemic with our hospitals and ERs stretched to the limit. Marijuana legalization will only put a heavier burden on our healthcare workers. Please don't sell out VA to the Marijuana Industry, the next Big Tobacco! We oppose HB 2312. Thank you.

Last Name: Brown Organization: CECVA - Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA Locality: Richmond

I am a founding member of CECVA- Cannabis Equity Coalition of VA. CECVA is in support of SB 1406. However, we are advocating that the bill be amended to increase the percentage of tax revenue allocated to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund from 30% to 70%. The Governor's bill has allocated 40% of tax revenues to fund Pre-CEK education. While CECVA is in favor of funding Pre-K...this has always been a direct obligation of Virginia taxpayers from General funds revenue. CECVA's position is that all Pre-K funding should continue to be fully supported and funded from the General Fund revenue. CECVA strongly advocates that Virginia follow the New Jersey model and allocate 70% of tax revenue received from the Adult Use Marijuana Industry to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund to be used exclusively to help repair families and communities that have been most hurt by Virginia's War on Drugs.

Last Name: Arrigo Organization: Virginia Parents for Medical Cannabis Locality: Arlington

I worked on the current medical legislation for 5 years with Speaker Filler-Corn and Senator Marsden on behalf of my daughter, Jennifer Collins who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy and uses medical cannabis to control her seizures. I would like to ask that when considering this bill you please allow the medical businesses to also obtain adult use licenses, because the medical businesses, that are crucial to my daughter and other Virginia patients, is the only way to ensure they will have access to this life changing medicine while consulting with healthcare professionals in the process. Thank you. Beth Arrigo

Last Name: Suit Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Ryan Suit and I am a co-founder of a vertically integrated hemp and CBD company in Virginia Beach. I have been in the cannabis industry for two years, and I am also a licensed and barred attorney in Virginia. The two major issues that I would like to comment on are vertical integration and the creation of a cannabis agency. Vertical integration should be allowed in the cannabis industry in Virginia. Vertical integration should not be required like it is for medical marijuana licensees, but it should not be banned. Banning vertical integration could severely limit the growth potential of small cannabis businesses. Farmers would not be able to sell directly to consumers. Processors would not be able to use their own flower for their products. Retailers would never be able to create their own brands. If this same concept were applied to vineyards, then a vineyard owner could grow grapes but could not make wine. Or, a vineyard could make wine from another vineyard’s grapes, but then could not sell that wine to consumers. Banning vertical integration wouldn’t make sense for the wine industry, and it doesn’t make sense for cannabis, either. While small businesses should be able to vertically integrate, guardrails should still be put in place to prevent few, well-capitalized companies from pushing competition out of the space. Currently there is a proposed fee of $250,000 to have more than one permit. That would be an insurmountable barrier to almost all small businesses trying to vertically integrate in any fashion, as stated above. Perhaps there could be higher taxes for companies that make over a certain amount of revenue per year. Or, there could be increasing fees to buy multiple permits. For example, a first permit could cost $100, the next permit could cost $250, a third permit $500, and to get all four could be exponentially more than that. Some kind of anti-monopoly prevention makes sense for this bill, but it is certainly easier said than done, and figuring out the details would likely require input and expertise from a regulatory agency. A new cannabis agency would be best suited to regulate marijuana in Virginia. A successful regulatory schema for marijuana legalization is going to require comprehensive legislation. The cannabis industry is an expansive one that is much more complicated than may seem at first glance. From farming and harvesting, to extraction and testing, to manufacturing and retail, there are a multitude of cannabis-related sub-industries that will need to be regulated. They should be regulated by an agency that is focused solely on cannabis. ABC has no experience with cannabis enforcement. VDACS has been in charge of hemp, which is cannabis with low levels of THC, but recently was about to end its program and allow the USDA to regulate hemp in Virginia. A new agency could use its expertise in cannabis to regulate both marijuana and hemp, and to address all of the issues that will arise with both. This would ensure that the novel complexities of a new industry would have an agency’s full attention, and it would neatly allow for a single agency to regulate all of cannabis in the commonwealth. Thank you for your time and consideration of my comments. I hope that my comments are helpful in addressing a few of the issues that marijuana legalization presents. I believe that input from those already involved in the cannabis industry is important, and I would be happy to provide more at any time.

Last Name: Wilson Organization: UFCW Local 400 Locality: Washington

Good afternoon Chair Krizek and members of the General Laws – ABC/Gaming Subcommittee. I am here today on behalf of the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Local 400. We represent over 10,000 members in Virginia who work in retail food, food service, food processing and healthcare. As I said on Tuesday night, we strongly support Delegate Herring's bill and the legalization of adult use cannabis with strong social equity protections for ownership with the industry and the inclusion of our proposed amendment that would provide equity in employment by ensuring a voice for workers within this new industry. The specific language change in the substitute bill we would recommend is: Add to 4.1-606B as a new 18 between line 6548 and 6549 to read: 18. Establish requirements for all license applicants to submit an attestation signed by a bona fide labor organization stating that the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with such bona fide labor organization. The maintenance of a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization shall be an ongoing material condition of maintaining a marijuana cultivation, marijuana manufacturing, marijuana testing, marijuana wholesaler, or marijuana retail store license. In reviewing initial license applications, the commission shall give priority to the following: (i) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents, or is actively seeking to represent, cannabis workers in Virginia. (ii) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents cannabis workers in another state. (iii) Applicants that include a significantly involved person or persons lawfully residing in Virginia for at least two year as of the date of the application. (iv) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming that they will use best efforts to utilize union building trades labor organizations in the construction or retrofit of the facilities associated with the permitted entity. (v) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming they have a project labor agreement, or will utilize a project labor agreement, which is a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering the terms and conditions of a specific project, including labor issues and worker grievances associated with any construction or retrofit of facilities, or other applicable project, associated with the licensed entity. It would also add to 4.1-900 under 1 as a new p between lines 7328 and 7329 to read: p. Failing to maintain a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Last Name: Shields Organization: NONE- private citizen Locality: Chesterfield Co.

Proposal: expand Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund to support the development of community-based approaches to wellness in lieu of investing in downstream impacts (treatment and recovery services). For example, 35% preschool, 60% cannabis equity reinvestment fund, and 5% substance use prevention. Substance use prevention programs are part of a statewide network of community coalitions currently, thus, funding for prevention is recommended to remain separate. Moneys in the Fund shall be used solely for the purposes of: 1. Making whole again families and communities historically and disproportionately targeted and affected by drug enforcement; 2. Providing scholarships for the historically marginalized population of youth, particularly in underserved communities, who have been adversely impacted by substance abuse individually or within their families or communities, including the experience of incarceration of a family member convicted of a marijuana offense; 3. Awarding grants to support workforce development, youth mentoring programs, job training and placement efforts, and reentry services that serve persons residing in areas disproportionately impacted by 345 drug enforcement; 4. Awarding grants to support the development of Accountable Communities for Health and/or Community Wellness Funds, to include community-based behavioral health supports and services; Definitions: Accountable Communities for Health (ACHs) are multi -sector, community-based partnerships that aim to address community health and social needs Community Wellness Fund refers to a community-based approach to pool resources in a community so they can be more efficiently and effectively targeted to improve overall health and health equity

Last Name: Edwards Locality: Henrico

1. Independent agency for oversight, not ABC 2. Board appointments should not only be appointed by the gov and should include at least 3 people impacted by disparate policing of marijuana 3. Virginia residency requirement with 51% ownership for all licenses not just social equity 4. Include micro-business & delivery licenses for more smaller business opportunities for growth and guard large buyouts from happening quickly 5. Ban vertical integration except for micro-business and grandfathering in medical with a $1mil fee at each renewal 6. Assign 50% of all licenses as social equity licenses 7. Protect social equity licenses for ownership and include equity for employees with all licenses

Last Name: Proulx Locality: Goochland County

I am providing a written comment to urge lawmakers to legalize cannabis through a social equity lens! So many people in Black and brown communities have been incarcerated and negatively affected by criminalization of this plant. I stand with the ACLU VA and VA Marijuana Justice, the people are calling for lawmakers to do the following: 1) Vote "Yes" to an independent cannabis agency, 2) Legalize horizontal integration, 3) Remove the section that allows someone to hire 10 impacted people to qualify for a social equity license, 4) Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the cannabis advisory board from 1 to at least 3, 5) Increase the tax revenues being dedicated to reinvestment from 30% to 70%. Legalization can have an incredibly positive impact on communities, but only if it is legalized right and with the bill's actual impact in mind!

Last Name: Hartke Organization: Parents Opposed to Pot Locality: Reston, VA

Hi my name is Kimberly Hartke, the spokesman for Parents Opposed to Pot, a nonprofit based in Virginia. There was much discussion about how to grow, manufacture and sell legal marijuana in our state. But let’s talk about what marijuana does to the end user. Marijuana is a hallucinogen- meaning it can cause you to hear and see things that are not real. It is a drug with unpredictable effects from person to person. It is toxic to the brain, and disrupts many functions of the brain, executive reasoning, space and time awareness, dopamine regulation and vision. Serious side effects include paranoia, delusional thinking, loss of inhibition, tunnel vision, psychosis, schizophrenia, blackouts and suicide. On NextDoor. com this week, my Virginia neighbor told of a frightening incident of a strange man showing up at her door, claiming “someone is trying to kill me.” This is an example of the kind of behavior (paranoid delusions) which can be caused by cannabis. The psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, stores in body fat, unlike alcohol which is water soluble and passes quickly from the body. Flashbacks can occur when the stored drug releases unexpectedly. This can be extremely dangerous if it happens while driving, operating heavy machinery or while babysitting. Cannabis can stay in your system for weeks after use, alcohol passes within a matter of hours. Parents Opposed to Pot over the last 6 years launched 5 websites tracking the rollout of state marijuana legalization and the negative outcomes. People from all over the nation have come to us, sharing their horror stories about how cannabis wrecked their lives. We have published 100 of such first-person testimonials. The most recent story we published was about Stephen, who started smoking pot at age 14 and was dead by 17. Another mom declared, “it only took 1 year for marijuana to kill my son.” Her son Jolo ran out into the road during a schizophrenic episode after threatening all afternoon to commit suicide. Then there was the workplace incident where a crane operator under the influence of cannabis dropped 5 tons of steel on a construction worker. We have told the stories of a 1987 Amtrak train crash killing 16. The limo driver who killed 20 members of a family in New York, a Church bus crash in Texas where 13 people died, each of these are marijuana impaired drivers killing innocent victims. Most importantly, we have tracked news reports nationwide of child deaths because of marijuana impaired adults. Babies sleeping with and smothered by a stoned mother, toddlers left in hot cars, drownings, fires, and vicious dogs where adults were too stoned to rescue the child, violent attacks and car crashes. One father put his dog and the diaper bag in the car, yet forgot the toddler. He ran over and killed his 2 year old son. At least 250 children have died in these child abuse and neglect cases, just since Colorado voted for recreational marijuana. As you consider burdening Virginia’s social services with this new industry, parents urge you to fully investigate the risks, harms and social ills of this drug. The social costs to marijuana will be 10 times the tax revenue. Parents Opposed to Pot is firmly opposed to commercial marijuana. Submitted by: Kimberly Hartke representing: PotPot.org MomsStrong.org JennifersMessengers.org EveryBrainMatters.org StopPot.org Contact info: Kimberly Hartke Reston, Virginia Kim.hartke@gmail.com 703-860-2711

Last Name: Gordon Locality: Richmond

I am writing in support of HB2312. I also hope that any marijuana bill that passes will allow people with felony convictions, other than crimes of moral turpitude, that have paid their debt to society, to participate in marijuana related businesses. Thank you.

Last Name: Bell Locality: Richmond

It is critical that cannabis legalization is implemented through a social equity lens. For this reason we demand an independent agency to lay out policies and oversee the process, we demand that the reinvestment rate be raised from 30% to 70%, and we demand that the number of impacted individuals on this advisory board/agency be increased to at least three. We demand horizontal integration. And finally, we submit that having 10 impacted individuals as employees does not qualify for a social equity license.

Last Name: Wallace Organization: Inspire Locality: Hampton

What will be the process of those to implement some of the first dispensaries and other logistical resources throughout Virginia? Will there be an equal number in the various regions in Virginia? Will those with medicinal needs be able to grow their own? Will the taxes increase or decrease? Where and how will the revenue be spent?

Last Name: Denekas Locality: Roanoke

Will submit under separate cover.

Last Name: McCray Organization: CECVA Locality: Richmond

Social Justice Equity: Quarterly Employee Census Reporting As part of the initial licensing and re-licensure, require all Medical and Adult Use Cannabis licensees to submit an Employee/Management Social Equity Employee Census to ensure their employee population truly reflects Virginia’s vibrant racial makeup and talents. The reports should be submitted quarterly, made public (released to the media), and include data for all entry-level staff, middle management, upper management, primary owners, and Board of Directors. As an inducement toward initial licensing and re-licensure, Medical, and Adult Use Cannabis licensee should create/maintain an employee mix that is fully reflective of Virginia’s vibrant racial diversity in all levels of their operations, management, and ownership with a specific bend toward Black and other impacted Virginians. The data reflected in these ongoing reports will be both reviewed and heavily considered at the time of re-licensure by Virginia Cannabis Agency officials and the general public.

Last Name: Edwards Locality: Henrico

We need an independent cannabis agency not ABC. Legalize horizontal integration. Hiring 10 impacted people should not quality someone for a social equity license. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on cannabis advisory board from one to at least three. Increase the tax revenues being dedicated to reinvestment from 30% to 70%.

Last Name: Adams Organization: myself Locality: Bellaire

Dear New Virginia Legislator, I’m a former Colorado mom and have firsthand experience of how legal marijuana harms a family and a community. I moved out of Colorado in 2018 because of the promotional policy of marijuana and lack of treatment for addiction. In this letter, I represent myself and no other organization. I strongly advise you to oppose HB2312, the commercialization of marijuana, because of the following facts: My son started using marijuana edibles in the 8th grade soon after legalization; he was self-harming. We did not know he was using marijuana because the industry makes products in deceptive forms to disguise use. By Feb 2015 my son was irrational, paranoid, repeating things that did not make sense, and one night he was so violent towards his younger brother that his brother ran barefoot through the snow to get away from him. He attempted suicide and was hospitalized, when he was discharged, he was still suicidal, and I took him back to the ER where I was told “It’s Just Marijuana” and was sent home. Within a few days, my son was hospitalized again in a different town because there were no available beds in our town. He told me he was using dabs, and he knew they were making him feel crazy and he was trying to quit. He describes dabs as strong marijuana and called them “crack weed”. Dabs are high concentrated THC products mass produced, marketed, and called medicine. I volunteered my family for crises intervention with the department of social service because I couldn’t find treatment for marijuana abuse. My son had developed the pediatric disease of addiction, and by the next year he was not only using marijuana but had moved on to meth and heroin. Marijuana kills and is a gateway to more illicit and pharmaceutical drugs. My son allows me to tell his story because he wants the nation to know that marijuana is deadly, harmful and can change you forever with delusional thinking, hallucinations, and an increase risk for suicide, depression, and addiction. Colorado kids have now progressed to More Potent Pot like candies and vapes. The state marijuana use rate is almost 21% and now more than half of those kids use high concentrated THC products designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold by the addiction-for-profit marijuana industry. We did not have this kind of accessibility to such dangerous products for people of all ages prior to legalization. My old community of Pueblo has pot scholarships for every high school senior. It’s a brilliant marketing plan by the predatory marijuana industry to groom future users; it’s a way to advertise to kids under the radar. As a result, 1 out of 3 Pueblo high school seniors use marijuana now (35%), and they have a 27.6% chronic absenteeism rate from school. There is a marijuana head shop next door to an alternative high school where kids can see shiny colorful bongs, pipes, clothing and advertisements glorifying and normalizing marijuana. They even have a person waiving a sign saying “Come get your free pipe”. 70% of marijuana shops in Colorado recommend marijuana to pregnant women. So, my mom and I hung baby bibs on the marijuana shops in Pueblo that said, “Don’t Hurt Our Future Colorado Kids”. It was a campaign by the Marijuana Accountability Coalition #1 cause of death ages 10 to 24 is suicide in Colorado. The main drug the victims are testing positive for is marijuana, ages 10 to 19. Please say no, Thank you

Last Name: Frierson Organization: CECVA.org Locality: Richmond

While I and many others generally support this Bill and legalization of marijuana, there are significant misgivings about a number of aspects of the current Bills. Many have concerns about the lack of details about Equity in the form of allowing Black and other impacted persons to be involved in this new industry. What has been presented thus far, appears to many to be an "inside job" that only involves a select few industry insiders, large corporations, and others who have NOT been impacted by Virginia's laws about marijuana. What many in Black and Brown communities desire is very clear language/laws that outline very clear paths for their involvement in ALL aspects of this new industry. The level of current murkiness that envelopes the "Equity" portions of licensing is of significant concern. Another area that is causing great heartburn is proposals as to how the $300 million in tax revenues -- as stated by JLARC -- is to be used in a number of ways, BUT not fully/enough to support Black and Brown impacted communities that have been impacted by Virginia's onerous marijuana laws over the past 60 years. It is a general thought and idea that the lion's share of tax revenues 70% should be directly used to repair damages done to the lives of Black and Brown individuals, families, children, communities, and institutions, again, resulting from Virginia's well-target laws about marijuana. See CECVA.org Legislative Interests Four Economic Justice Equity: Allocation of Cannabis-Related Taxes Require 70% of all cannabis-related state and local tax revenues (both Medical and Adult Use) be allocated to help ameliorate the harm adjudication of Virginia’s harsh cannabis laws inflicted on Black and other impacted communities across the state. As well, because Black and Brown communities know best what repairs are best needed, where, when, and through whom, it is our intent that a Cannabis Community Reinvestment Committee is formed to specifically make such decisions, rather than an unwieldy government selected Board/Commissions made up of persons who have no connection to Black and Brown communities - See CECVA.org . Legislative Interests Two Economic Justice Equity: Form A Cannabis Community Re-Investment Board Much like the Tobacco Commission formed by elected lawmakers in 1999 to assist impacted tobacco farmers, the Cannabis Community Re-Investment Board (the Board) will be formed and supported in similar ways. The Board will be charged with making decisions as to how funds derived from Medical and Adult Use Cannabis industry taxes will be allocated for re-investment into Black and other impacted communities across Virginia for the direct benefit of persons in those communities. The Board will be comprised of persons from VUU, VSC, NSU, and HU (4 total) along with seven business and community leaders from both metro and rural areas across Virginia — Central Virginia 2, NOVA 2, Hampton Roads 1, Western Virginia 1, and Southern Virginia 1. In helping to address the apparently strong Social Justice interests relating to Virginia’s Adult Use industry, the Board will play an important role in helping to ameliorate the harm adjudication of Virginia’s harsh cannabis laws have inflicted on Black and other impacted communities statewide.

Last Name: Mirza Locality: Richmond

In order to prioritize social equity during the legalization of cannabis, I urge lawmakers to: 1. Vote "yes" to an independent cannabis agency 2. Legalize horizontal integration 3. Not allow the hiring of ten impacted people to qualify someone for a social equity license 4. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the cannabis advisory board from one to at least three 5. Increase tax revenues being dedicated to reinvestment from 30% to 70% Thank you.

Last Name: Mosios Locality: Fairfax County

Will this bill legalize the medicinal use of the cannabis plant, as opposed to the current restriction to cannabis oil, for medicinal purposes? Furthermore, will this bill legalize the simple possession of cannabis products in the intervening time between passage and the implementation of a regulatory agency in 2023 or 2024, if the user lawfully purchased the cannabis product from a lawful out-of-state retailer?

Last Name: Cardwell Locality: Roanoke City

Thank you committee. My name is Sean Cardwell from Roanoke, Virginia. As of now, only those eligible for expungement will qualify to participate in the industry, no one with a felony is included, this must be changed. Minorities, specifically African Americans, are imprisoned almost five times as much as whites. Barring felons from the industry goes completely against any social equity goals.

Last Name: Spangenberg Locality: Richmond

Nicole Spangenberg, MSW student in Richmond Virginia. I am asking for you to Vote YES to an INDEPENDENT cannabis agency. LEGALIZE horizontal integration. Advocate that hiring 10 impacted people does NOT qualify as social equity INCREASE number of Impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis equality board from one to AT LEAST THREE INCREASE the tax revenues for REINVESTMENT from 30% to 70% Thank you.

Last Name: Moore Locality: Virginia Beach

The house should vote “Yes” to an independent cannabis agency and legalize horizontal integration as to not create a monopoly. Hiring 10 impacted people should not qualify someone for a social equity license, we should prioritize black and indigenous cannabis agencies/owners. We should also increase the number of impacted people people serving on the cannabis advisory board to at least 4. The tax revenues (between 70-100%) should not fund policing and should be reinvested into the community. The people who have been harmed by cannabis prohibition should be given resources for social equity and mobility.

Last Name: McRae Locality: Richmond

Science supports legalization, there has been no significant rise in phycological issues or rise in marijuana only vehicular accidents. No state that has legalize has suffered a negative hit to its tourism sector as well. There is data to support the previous statements. If the marijuana is to be commercialized then the current penalties have to be done away with and changed. Those with non violent offenses should have their records expunged.

Last Name: Haynes Locality: Virgina Beach

Expunging someone’s record who’s been convicted of a drug offense is just not good enough. People served years for the same drugs that people in power will benefit off of now. “Okay you served three years already, we are going to clean your record now” that’s a smack in the face. If politicians really care about these people, how about every marijuana business venture has to have a majority owner who’s been convicted of a drug offense?

Last Name: Medley Locality: Los Angeles

Marijuana should be legalized with a social equity plan! Virginia needs to end the discrimination and prohibition by legalizing marijuana the correct way. I was criminalized for it and felt like my life was over my last semester I worked. You must invest into the communities that were affected by the prohibition of marijuana in the state of Virginia. We have to stop criminalizing our youth! Legalization in the form of reparations. Expunge all records! Allow people affected to obtain licenses to sell! It’s past the time for this! Do what’s right and legalize it right!

Last Name: Harris Organization: Virginia Student Power Network Locality: North Chesterfield

Hello General Laws Committee, my name is Kalia Harris and I am a co-Executive Director of Virginia Student Power Network, which represents hundreds of young Virginians. We urge you to pass this legislation but with some important changes: (1) Repeal Marijuana prohibition now and remove all penalties. This cannot wait. (2) Don’t criminalize another generation of youth and young adults. As the first-ever statewide student organizing network, we have seen the data that shows that youths aged 18-24 are the most impacted by marijuana enforcement. (3) In terms of regulation, Virginia should create an independent cannabis regulatory agency to promulgate legalization. (4) There is currently a loophole in the social equity license eligibility. True racial equity demands sharing economic power, and the criteria for social equity licensure must ensure that only those marijuana establishments that are majority-owned by individuals from communities most impacted by the War on Drugs get access to the resources dedicated to social equity. (5) In terms of board make-up, increasing the number of representatives from one to at least three is absolutely essential. (6) For tax revenue, 70 percent of tax revenue from marijuana sales should be allocated to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund. (7) To repair for the past harms of the Virginia Drug War, full and automatic expungements for marijuana related convictions is essential. Make all expungements automatic regardless of whether it is a felony or a misdemeanour as long as the waiting period has been met post completion of sentence only. Remove the requirement that fines, fees, and restitution be paid and reduce the waiting period to 3 years which will bring us in line with 10 other states where 3 years is the policy. (8) Lastly, in regards to resentencing, the state should take on the cost of reclassification and create a process by which all cases are reviewed within 1 year of legalization of marijuana. The onus should not be placed on the impacted person to file a petition to have their case reheard. It is beneficial to the state to get these people out of jail or prison quickly - in the long term decarceration will be a tremendous cost savings. Thank you for your time and your attention to this matter. Virginia must legalize it right from day one.

Last Name: Khanna Organization: ACLU of Virginia Locality: Richmond

Honorable Committee members, On behalf of the ACLU of Virginia and its more than 100,000 members and supporters in Virginia, we urge the committee to pass legalization of marijuana in a way that centers racial and social justice. Virginia has an incredible opportunity to be the first state in the South to legalize marijuana and we must do it right. Please find below two of the most critical aspects of social equity that should be prioritized in this committee as it relates to regulation and reinvestment. 1. Regulation and equitable access to the market Problem: Currently, ABC, an existing and overwhelmed agency with an historically punitive structure is tasked with regulating, taxing, and enforcing marijuana legalization. Solution: Virginia should create an independent cannabis regulatory agency to promulgate legalization. Problem: Currently, localities would be given a choice as to whether the marijuana industry would have access to their city, county, or town. Solution: Allowing localities to "opt out" creates disparities in access to the plant as well as access to the industry for people in those districts. Social equity license eligibility - loophole Problem: Employers of 10 or more employees are eligible for a social equity license and all the benefits it entails if more than 51% of their employees have been impacted by marijuana prohibition and targeted by drug enforcement. The problem is that this eligibility condition creates a loophole that diverts the benefits of social equity licensure away from those who need it most. Solution: We would propose striking this clause altogether. Social equity license eligibility Problem: There are two sections that may be impacted by felony convictions –Granting of licenses and Revocation of licenses resulting in denial of impacted community members from participating in an industry. We believe the provisions are too broad and “moral turpitude” is not defined explicitly. Solution: We believe that lawmakers should limit the offenses that will hinder licensure and decrease the years between the conviction and the application. We recommend that only convictions that would impact license eligibility and revocation should be those that are substantially related to the fitness and ability of the applicant to lawfully carry out activities. Marijuana felony convictions should not hinder licensure. 2. There must be funding and oversight for equity built into the new industry on day one Issue: It is my understanding that only 30 percent of marijuana excise tax revenue is allocated to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund. 30 percent of tax revenue will not meet the depth of the needs of historically marginalized Virginians. Solution: We propose strongly that we allocate 70 percent of excise tax revenue from marijuana sales to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund. Seventy percent of tax revenue—what New Jersey allocates to its equivalent equity reinvestment fund—would empower Virginia’s Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board to make racial equity and justice a reality, not just an abstract principle. Legislative Director of the ACLU of Virginia, Ashna Khanna, can be reached at 248-231-2551 or akhanna@acluva.org.

Last Name: Harris Locality: Virginia Beach

I would like to voice support for legalizing marijuana in Virginia. I think it would add a whole new sector to our economy and provide a lot of jobs, while continuing to reduce over-policing of nonviolent crime.

Last Name: Sean Cardwell Locality: Roanoke City

Section 4.1-626, 1c restricts licensure to any individual convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within 7 years from date of licensure. This will disproportionately impact minorities and the lower class. It is of my opinion that lawmakers should limit the crimes which would restrict a candidate from licensure. Additionally, lawmakers should shorten the period of years between conviction and application from 7 years to 3.

Last Name: C Locality: Virginia Beach

It is imperative & non-negotiable that when legalizing Cannabis in the state of Virginia & anywhere in the world, it must be done through a socially & racially equitable lens. Please vote YES to the following: 1. An independent cannabis agency 2. Legalize horizontal integration 3. Hiring 10 impacted people should NOT be a qualifier for anyone to obtain a social equity license 4. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the cannabis advisory board from 1 to at least 3 5. Increase the tax revenues dedicated to reinvestment in the community from 30% to 70%. It is necessary that when making any legislation community input, guidance, & leadership is sought out thoroughly & incorporated into the process. There are far too many people making decisions for disenfranchised communities without even including voices from these communities. Building trust, being transparent, integrity & accountability is needed for the path towards atonement. Thank you.

Last Name: McCray Locality: Henrico

1. Yes to the legalization of Marijuana 2. Amendments: - Social Justice Equity: Support Formation of a Cannabis Producer Federation Actively support the formation and initial operation of a trade association type of entity that is organized, managed, and serves the specific needs of Blacks, impacted persons, and many others involved in or interested in involvement in Virginia’s Adult Use and Medical Cannabis industries. Because the cannabis industry is so new, there is a definitive need for Black and other impacted persons to readily have available independent and well-structured representation at the local and statewide levels if needed. 3. Amendments: Economic Justice Equity: Allocation of Cannabis-Related Taxes Require 70% of all cannabis-related state and local tax revenues (both Medical and Adult Use) be allocated to help ameliorate the harm adjudication of Virginia’s harsh cannabis laws inflicted on Black and other impacted communities across the state.

Last Name: Jackson Organization: ACLUVA, Marijuana Justice Locality: North Chesterfield

I'm a mother, wife, and I have Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 2J. I vote and am concerned about families and optional pain relief. I would like to encourage you to vote YES to an independent cannabis agency, horizontal integration. Hiring 10 impacted people should not qualify you for a social equity lisence. We should also have at least 3 impacted people appointed to the Cannabis Advisory Board. Last but not lease, you should increase the tax revenue being dedicated to reinvestment to 70%. Thank you for reading!!!

Last Name: Cox Locality: Norfolk

Cannabis and Marijuana have provided me with relief from chronic pain due to tumors and has provided me with a safer alternative than alcohol. Virginia now is the time to push for legalizing cannabis. We can use the tax dollars for our schools and create thousands of new jobs for our residents.

Last Name: So Locality: Henrico, VA

1. Vote "Yes" to an Independent Cannabis Agency. 2. Legalize Horizontal Integrations 3. Hiring 10 Impacted People Should Not Qualify Someone For A Social Equity License 4. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis Advisory Board from one to at least three. 5. Increase the Tax Revenue being Dedicated to Reinvestment from 30% to 70%.

Last Name: Tisdale-Vakos Organization: Students for Equity and Reform in Virginia at UVA Locality: Virginia Beach

In 2020, Virginia began the process of undoing countless years of harm to Black communities by decriminalizing the simple possession of marijuana. However, this effort alone will not end the disproportionate impact of the war on drugs. As the committee may know, in Virginia, Black residents are 3.4 times more likely than white residents to be arrested for simple marijuana possession. Once arrested, Black Virginians are four times more likely than white Virginians to be convicted of a marijuana charge. The effects of the war on drugs on the Black and brown communities of Virginia must not be overlooked in Virginia’s legalization legislation. To guarantee equal opportunity in the legal market, Virginia must ensure that social equity provisions are included. Virginia must follow the lead of other states, such as Illinois, which established social equity programs to allow peoples historically affected by criminalization to benefit from legalization in areas such as licensing and employment. The tax revenue from retail marijuana must be allocated back to groups who suffered from the unjust criminalization of marijuana. We urge the committee to remain fervent in its pursuit of social equity and racial justice in HB 2312 by not only legalizing marijuana but creating fair access to the legal market beyond hiring ten impacted persons. We urge the committee to increase the number of impacted individuals serving on the Cannabis Advisory Board to at least three. With the aforementioned amendments, our organization asks the committee to support the passage of HB 2312. -Students for Equity and Reform in Virginia (SERV) Tessa Danehy, President Hayden Ratliff, Dhruv Rungta, Kristin O’Donoghue, Alexandra Hartman, Patrick Cloud, Madeleine Green, Cole Davidson, Austin McNichols, Priya Viswanathan, Ciara Tisdale-Vakos, Theresa Ho, Neha Krishnakumar, Hayes Miller, Gabby Jefferson, Sona Kalatardi, Jack Melman-Rogers, Stella Banino

Last Name: Proulx Locality: Goochland County

I am providing a written comment to urge lawmakers to legalize cannabis through a social equity lens! So many people in Black and brown communities have been incarcerated and negatively affected by criminalization of this plant. The people are calling for lawmakers to do the following: 1) Vote "Yes" to an independent cannabis agency, 2) Legalize horizontal integration, 3) Remove the section that allows someone to hire 10 impacted people to qualify for a social equity license, 4) Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the cannabis advisory board from 1 to at least 3, 5) Increase the tax revenues being dedicated to reinvestment from 30% to 70%. Legalization can have an incredibly positive impact on communities, but only if it is legalized right and with the bill's actual impact in mind!

Last Name: Siff Locality: Richmond

I am a current medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, and I urge the committee to oppose legalizing the sale, manufacture, and possession of marijuana. If this drug becomes widely available, it will cause significant damage to the public health of Virginia and the safety of our local communities. Substantial research has linked marijuana use to a host of negative consequences including schizophrenia, motor vehicle accidents, low-birth-weight infants, and brain underdevelopment in teenagers. Additionally, research conducted in Colorado after the legalization of recreational marijuana showed that opioid use more than doubled in teens age 10-19. Virginia already struggles with a significant opioid crisis, and legalizing marijuana will only worsen that crisis. Even the federal government lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug right next to heroin and LSD (Schedule 1 means that the drug has "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse"). Finally, studies show that marijuana use in Colorado is twice as high in populations earning less that $20,000 per year compared to populations earning more than $50,000 per year. Poor and disadvantaged populations in the United States already have higher rates of substance abuse, schizophrenia, mental illness, and a host of other medical and social problems. There is no reason to further disadvantage these Americans by legalizing the recreation use of a dangerous psychoactive drug. There is a strong public perception that recreational marijuana use is harmless, but the scientific evidence shows that legalizing marijuana use will only harm communities and waste precious healthcare resources. Therefore, I urge you to oppose HB1815 and HB2312.

Last Name: Frierson Organization: CECVA.org Locality: Richmond

We support this Bill but ONLY with very strong laws that ensure inclusion of Black and other communities that have been impacted by Virginia laws related to marijuana

Last Name: Kohan Locality: North Chesterfield

Hello, I am writing today to add my thoughts and support to the repeal of marijuana prohibition and subsequent legalization methods. For whatever it’s worth, I am a college-educated white woman in my 30s who is a full-time working mother. I come from a state that was early in prohibition repeal and while the state might have had good equitable intentions, it has not panned out. There were grants provided to potential business, but the recipients got stuck in bureaucratic red tape and to this day have not been able to open their businesses. It’s been 8 years. The state of Virginia has a unique opportunity to become a LEADER is equitable marijuana reform. I stand with the Virginia ACLU and Marijuana Justice on their recommendations for socially equitable legalization: repeal, repair, and reparations. When prohibition is repealed it should be repealed in FULL. Youth caught with marijuana should not have to face anything or anybody but their own caregivers - no penalties for ANY possession. People who are in jail for non-violent marijuana charges should be released or their charges should be reconsidered with expungement of the marijuana charge. There should be expungement of the same charges on criminal records - people who did time for a non-violent marijuana offense should be allowed their VOTING RIGHTS and the opportunity to find work without discrimination. At least 50% of tax revenues should be going towards the repair of the communities and families torn apart by a racially unjust drug war and over-policing. Moneys should be allocated for public education and economic development in these underserved communities. Any of the tax revenue from legal sales that goes towards policing should be earmarked for anti-racist training. The Cannabis Advisory Board needs to have majority representation from all communities effected by marijuana prohibition. Additionally, an independent agency should be established to monitor the development of the legal cannabis industry in Virginia, and there should be representation in that agency as well. Tokenism in hiring practices is not social equity. Equity is reparations. In this case, that looks like making giving first opportunities in the industry to responsible business owners from the communities most effected by prohibition. It looks like making grants available to get people in the door of the legal cannabis industry before the corporations come in and box them out. It means eliminating red tape and making sure there is ease in navigating the bureaucracy so that small business owners aren’t in a Kafkaesque nightmare as they try to make a space for themselves in the industry. I believe this is all very important as the statistics show that Black and Brown people are disproportionately targeted for and affected by marijuana criminalization. This has been the way for decades and has been just another method to keep BIPOC from succeeding and building up their communities. It is so important that we use this opportunity to begin making REAL amends - not just removing monuments and creating holidays - and personally, I wholeheartedly trust the Black and Brown communities to lead the industry with aplomb if they are given the opportunity to do so! This can ONLY be achieved through socially equitable reform. Thank you, Rebecca k

Last Name: Whitehurst Locality: Richmond City

Vote YES to legalize Marijuana the right way, the socially-just way, the way that centers those most harmed by the backwards-minded War on Drugs. We must legalize horizontal integration. We must increase the number of impacted people to serve on the cannabis advisory board to at least three. Lastly, and critically important, the tax revenues being dedicated to reinvestment must be increased substantially from 30% to 70%. The War on Drugs has been misguided for decades and this approach to drug use, a public health crisis, is in stark contrast to rehabilitative research.

Last Name: Snead Organization: Ally of Marijuana Justice Locality: Henrico

First, we should have an independent cannabis agency. I feel the consolidation around distribution we see around Alcohol for both beer & liquor would ultimately be harmful to retailers, producers, micro licensees, and consumers. The concerns that arise around cannabis production and sales should be handled independently by people who are experts in the field. Second, outside of a micro license, there should be no vertical integration. In the Medical space here in Virginia the highly vertically integrated model we adopted ultimately hurts the type of products available & what options patients of medical have available to them. Right now on 1/26/2021 at 2pm, none of the open dispensaries in Virginia have dab-able extracts available to patients. The rotating lineup of vape products mean patients cannot rely on having the consistent terpene profile one would expect. The supply chain restrictions that Virginia's medical marijuana program puts on medical providers should not be allowed to be duplicated in a recreation program. The market works best when retailers, producers, distributers, and consumers can utilize the market to send signals to each other. Only micro licensees should be allowed to consolidate production, processing, and retail of their own products under one roof. Concerning social equity licensees, hiring impacting people should not grant an otherwise non-conforming licensee the right to enter the market as a social equity licensee. Working for a firm is not the same as owning a firm (or owning part of a firm). The cannabis advisory board should not only have a token member of impacted communities. A minimum of three members of an impacted community is necessary to ensure the restorative capacity of a recreational cannabis social equity licensee program can be protected. The harms of cannabis prohibition upon impacted communities is well documented. Any board that regulates cannabis needs to ensure these voices are heard and have an impact on decisions being made. Tax revenues generated by the sale of cannabis should be reinstated into the communities that were harmed by cannabis prohibition. A minimum of 70% of tax revenue should be reinvested, not just 30%. Ensuring a greater % of funding being reinvested into the very communities that were most harmed by cannabis prohibition will help rebuilt up these very communities after decades of harm.

Last Name: Isaac Organization: Marijuana Justice VA Locality: Richmond

Thank you to the committee, my name is Naomi Isaac, I am from Richmond, Virginia and a representative of the cannabis advocacy group, Marijuana Justice VA. I am here to encourage you all to prioritize social equity when it comes to cannabis legalization, so that we can ensure that those who have been most harmed by the War on Drugs benefit most. This means establishing an independent Cannabis agency rather than depending on the VABC which is a law enforcement agency and has historically been an enforcer of prohibition and the War on Drugs. An equity-first approach to marijuana legalization means that communities who have endured the most violence and divestment from cannabis prohibition have a fair opportunity to participate in the cannabis industry. However, the current proposal allows for an applicant to hold up to 4 licenses simply by paying a fee of $250,000 but there are no other protections for those who have access to little wealth, and we know those people are more likely to Black, Brown, and low-income. It is for that reason that I encourage the Committee to legislate horizontal integration in order to dismantle these barriers to participation, and prevent multi-state operators and others who have been least impacted by the prohibition from having a monopoly on licensure. Additionally, I also encourage the Committee to increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis Control Advisory from one impacted to at least three. A one person limitation affects the extent to which the values, experience, and perspectives of impacted communities can be incorporated into marijuana regulation .

Last Name: Moore Organization: CECVA Locality: Henrico

My name is Khalfani Moore. I support these bills in alignment with MarijuanaJustice and CECVA. I call for equitable inclusion to be intentional and focused. This can be accomplished by having the following provisions as critical components of these bills being presented. 1. Vote "Yes" to an Independent Cannabis Agency. 2. Legalize Horizontal Integrations 3. Hiring 10 Impacted People Should Not Qualify Someone For A Social Equity License 4. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis Advisory Board from one to at least three. 5. Increase the Tax Revenue being Dedicated to Reinvestment from 30% to 70%. 6. Support Formation of a Cannabis Producer Federation/Trade Association Regards

Last Name: Kane Winters Locality: Virginia Beach

We must legalize cannabis in a truly equitable manner, and while I support HB1815 and HB2312, they are far from true and sustainable equity for the BIPOC Virginians who have been hardest hit by the racist war on drugs. I stand with ACLU Virginia and Marijuana Justice in urging lawmakers to do the following: 1.) Vote “YES” to an independent cannabis agency. 2.) Legalize horizontal integration and prohibit vertical which is nothing but White Supremacy and monopoly. 3.) White people hiring 10 BIPOC individuals is not social equity it is modern day share cropping and yet another form of legalized slavery and White Supremacy. This CANNOT qualify someone for a social equity license. 4.) Increase the number of BIPOC/impacted people set to serve on the cannabis advisory board from ONE to FIVE. 5.) Increase the tax revenues dedicated to reinvestment in BIPOC/impacted communities from 30% to 70%. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Brock Locality: Henrico

Hello, As a resident of Henrico, VA and in regards to HB2312, I urge you to employ a social equity lens with the aim of repairing harm done to the communities most affected by the War on Drugs. This means: 1. Voting “Yes” to an Independent Cannabis Agency so that ABC does not regulate sales. 2. Legalize Horizontal Integration 3. Higher standards for a social equity license. Hiring 10 impacted people should not count - I’m looking to see ownership! 4. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis Advisory Board from 1 to at least 3. 5. Increase the tax revenues being dedicated to reinvestment from 30% to 70%. Our harmed communities deserve this investment!! Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Winnegan Organization: Cannabis Equity Coalition of Virginia CECVA Locality: N. Chesterfield

My name is Fernando Winnegan and I am an advisory board member for Cannabis Equity Coalition of Virginia (CECVA). We oppose HB 1815 and HB 2312... Our mission is to advocate for policies that strongly support Social Equity in Virginia's Cannabis industry legislation. One of our main goals is advocate for automatic expungement and early release of Black and Brown people who have been so negatively and disproportionately affected by Virginia's criminalization of marijuana. Because these bills do not have strong components for Social Equity...we do not support. Thank you

Last Name: Randolph Organization: CECVA Locality: Richmond Virginia

I would like to vote "Yes" to an Independent Cannabis Agency. And the following to 2. Legalize Horizontal Integrations 3. Hiring 10 Impacted People Should Not Qualify Someone For A Social Equity License 4. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis Advisory Board from one to at least three. 5. Increase the Tax Revenue being Dedicated to Reinvestment from 30% to 70%.

Last Name: Jewell Organization: Cannabis Equity Coalition of Virginia (CECVA) Locality: Richmond City

As CECVA Chair, we support the Herring bill with the proviso that anti-monopoly provisions are in place that will prevent large firms from squeezing out the smaller operations buy out cos. to unduly control the marketplace.

Last Name: Marius McCray Organization: CECVA Locality: Henrico

1. Vote "Yes" to an Independent Cannabis Agency. 2. Legalize Horizontal Integrations 3. Hiring 10 Impacted People Should Not Qualify Someone For A Social Equity License 4. Increase the number of impacted people set to serve on the Cannabis Advisory Board from one to at least three. 5. Increase the Tax Revenue being Dedicated to Reinvestment from 30% to 70%. 6. Support Formation of a Cannabis Producer Federation/Trade Assocition

Last Name: Griffith Locality: Virginia Beach, VA

Hello, my name is Savana Griffith and I am a minority hemp farmer looking to get involved in the Virginia Cannabis industry. There are a number of issues that need to be corrected before this bill will truly demonstrate social equity. The main concerns include the ABC being granted regulatory oversight of the industry. This needs to be avoided as the ABC is known to be rather aggressive, focusing more on law enforcement than regulations. A completely new regulatory agency should be created to focus solely on Cannabis regulations. Those that want the industry to be set up with integrity are 100% okay with any delays in the program if it means doing it right. Also, creating a new category of crimes once adult use cannabis is legal will not lessen the potential of discriminatory law enforcement, rather it would shift the potential to underaged children, who more than likely need help rather than punishment. As well, we all agree that pre-schools could benefit from tax funding from this cannabis program, however if we are truly focusing on undoing the harms of those directly affected by cannabis criminalization, more than 30% of tax revenue - instead more like 50% - should be reserved for the social equity program which should be required for grants, loan assistance, business training, etc. After all, children grow first and foremost in their own homes, so it only makes sense to first fix the home by providing real life changing opportunities to the childrens' caregivers. Also, focusing on social equity; allowing corporations with disadvantaged employees the same "social equity" opportunities as individuals who have personally been affected by cannabis criminalization is offensive and does not speak just to social equity. These opportunities should be reserved solely to individuals, as we can help many more individuals and families this way. Which leads into my final thought that I support allowing horizontal integration rather than allowing vertical integration, as this is a definite way to redistribute the wealth across the board, rather than allowing the majority of the industry go to a handful of companies; again, helping more families in Virginia. I believe these changes highlight social equity in the most equitable ways possible, as Virginia claims to be working toward.

Last Name: Barber Organization: None Locality: Richmond

My name is Kemp and I’m commenting on HB2312. My family has been deeply wounded by the war on drugs. The failed rehabilitation, incarceration, and eventual overdose and death of my brother has left a shadow over my family for as long as I can remember. Every charge, every arrest, every time the state chooses to jail and fine and kill someone over a drug—another family is experiencing that same tragedy we went through. Decriminalization, and the way this policy is drafted, will directly determine how often these tragedies continue to occur. It determines who’s children will grow up fatherless, motherless—orphaned by the system. Beyond that, these choices have the capacity to rectify these past generational tragedies, and begin the long and arduous process of racial healing in the wake of mass incarceration. It is not enough to legalize, we must legalize *right* to restore the wrongs of our racist history. I implore you to vote yes to an independent cannabis agency because partisan oversight and special interest need not control decriminalization—leave that to experts in the field independent of biases and partisanship. Legalize horizontal integration because allowing single entities to hold multiple business licenses means the most impacted people will have less access to the industry and its benefits while wealthy elites consolidate the market. Put *ownership* of businesses into the hands of people who have actually been impacted by criminalization—as of now this bill allows a rich white business owner to hire 10 impacted folks and profit from social equity programs. This perpetuates the same inequalities in the industry and gives more access to wealthy opportunists rather than the people who deserve reparation and justice. Hiring 10 impacted people should not qualify someone for a social equity license. The cannabis control advisory board *must* increase the number of impacted people to at least 3. Having a board made up of mostly non-impacted people creates room for the same intellectual blinders and reductive, impersonal policy that governed the era of mass incarceration. For a truly transformative future, we must seek to amplify the voices of those who have been harmed historically by drug policy so as to avoid the problems of past legislation. Finally, the tax revenue dedicated to the cannabis equity reinvestment fund must increase from 30% to 70%. Profits for business owners and the state should take a backseat to rectifying, repairing, and reconciling with the genocidal implications of drug criminalization. Money should go towards social equity first, in a more impactful and significant way, to better promote economic and political equity and racial healing. Don’t lay the groundwork for more family tragedies and more economic injustice. Legalize it right.

Last Name: Brown Organization: Laruesson LLC Locality: Glen Allen

As one of the first legal, black-owned Cannabis retail operations in RVA, I would be lying to say the injustice in the industry was not an inspiration for my companies origin. I have seen black and white men, who I refer to as brothers suffer by losing out on scholarship money in high school (2011 - Hermitage), college (2015 - University of Richmond), and on the NFL level 2017+. These infamous moments in my life have driven me to create and push for equity as a minority in the Cannabis space, to give back to the folks who I saw first hand lose out on life-changing opportunities. Fast forward to 2021 and I am in support of the revenue that will be earned from the legalization of Marijuana to be invested back into the communities where those teammates/brothers come from. In order to #LegalizeItRight, we must vote "YES" to an independent Cannabis agency, Legalize horizontal integration, Push for diversity amongst the staff in the industry (MORE THAN 10 MINORITIES), and Increase the tax revenue dedicated to reinvestment from 30% to at least 50%. Thank you for your time and God bless. - Brian Brown CEO of Laruesson LLC. "Cannabis Is Essential" Former NFL Player University of Richmond Grad '17

Last Name: Noe-Payne Locality: Richmond VA

VA has an opportunity and an obligation to legalize cannabis through a social equity lens, and can lead the nation in repairing harm and reinvesting in communities in a way that will help them thrive and benefit all of us. - Vote YES to an independent cannabis agency - Legalize horizontal integration to lower the barrier to entry and create more equitable access to the profits from the legal marijuana industry for the same people who have been most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis for decades - Social equity grants should be limited to companies where impacted people have an ownership stake. Social equity grants should be used to support & repair the generations of harm done by criminalization of cannabis - hiring 10 impacted people into minimum wage jobs does not do this. - Cannabis control advisory board should increase the number of impacted people to AT LEAST 3 - Increase tax revenue dedicated to reinvestment from 30% to 70%.

Last Name: Clark Locality: Richmond city

The cannabis agency needs to be independent. Horizontal Integration should be legalized for the cannabis industry. The number of impacted people should be increased to at least 3. 70% of tax revenue needs to be earmarked for reinvestment. Unless we take these steps, cannabis legislation will fall flat. Make Virginia proud of how it's fixing past wrongs

Last Name: Noe-Payne Locality: Richmond

Hello, I am writing regarding HB2312. As a Virginia resident I believe that marijuana should be legalized through a social equity lens. Accordingly I am asking the following: 1. Vote YES to an independent cannabis agency to ensure sustainable social equity. 2. Legalize horizontal integration - allowing applicants to hold two or more licenses decreases the number of beneficiaries and creates obstacles for people most impacted by the War on Drugs. 3. Ownership should be in the hands of impacted people - hiring 10 impacted people alone shouldn’t qualify someone for a social equity license. This loophole takes the benefits of social equity licensure away from impacted communities who need it most. 4. The cannabis control advisory board must increase the number of impacted people from 1 to AT LEAST 3. 5. Increase the tax revenue being dedicated to the cannabis equity reinvestment from 30% to 70%. Thank you

Last Name: Frierson Organization: CECVA.org Locality: Richmond

As a voter and Virginia resident, I support the legalization of marijuana ONLY IF the laws are crafted to ensure FULL INCLUSION OF BLACK AND OTHER IMPACTED PERSONS who are residents of Virginia. Of particular concerns are ensuring there are well-defined laws that ensure the major companies DO NOT monopolize the industry to the detriment of Black business persons and other small local companies. As an organization representing several thousand voters and Virginians across the state, the specific ideas about the inclusion of Blacks and other are provided at www.CECVA.org. A summary of CECVA's ideas is listed below and at https://cannabisequitycoalitionva.org/2021-legislative-interests/ Legislative Interest Eight Social Justice Equity: Fair Cannabis Industry Licensing As a part of continued licensure, require current and future significantly sized* Medical Cannabis licensees to incorporate a minimum of two Junior Partner firms in all of their operations. As part of initial and continued licensure, require significantly sized* Adult Use Cannabis licensees to incorporate a minimum of two Junior Partner firms in all of their operations. The primary goal of working with Junior Partner firms – made up of Blacks and other firms from impacted communities – is for significantly sized license holders to mentor their employees and management about the industry in helping to ensure true Social Equity and smooth development of the breadth of Virginia’s Adult Use Cannabis industry. Based on total assets and other factors, significantly sized Medical and Adult Use Cannabis licensees may be required to incorporate additional, more than two, Junior Partner firms in all of their operations. These particular aspects of cannabis legislation should be developed as part of the justified “corporate give back” needed to help build the infrastructure of a fair and truly Socially Equitable Virginia cannabis industry that incorporates as many as possible. *Significantly sized is defined as having: Total company/parent/partner company assets in excess of $5 million Involvement in any aspects of the cannabis industry in more than one state Significant company ownership is composed of Sophisticated Investors as defined in Securities and Exchange Commission regulations

Last Name: Hartke Organization: Parents Opposed to Pot Locality: Reston

Hi my name is Kimberly Hartke, the spokesman for Parents Opposed to Pot, a nonprofit based in Virginia. Marijuana is a hallucinogen- meaning it can cause you to hear and see things that are not real. It is a drug with unpredictable effects from person to person. It is toxic to the brain, and disrupts many functions of the brain, executive reasoning, space and time awareness, dopamine regulation and vision. Serious side effects include paranoia, delusional thinking, loss of inhibition, tunnel vision, blackouts, psychosis, schizophrenia and suicide. On NextDoor. com this week, my Virginia neighbor told of a frightening incident of a strange man showing up at her door, claiming “someone is trying to kill me.” This is an example of the kind of behavior (paranoid delusions) which can be caused by cannabis. The psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, stores in body fat, unlike alcohol which is water soluble and passes quickly from the body. Flashbacks can occur when the stored drug releases unexpectedly. This can be extremely dangerous if it happens while driving, operating heavy machinery or while babysitting. Cannabis can stay in your system for weeks after use, alcohol passes within a matter of hours. Parents Opposed to Pot over the last 6 years launched 5 websites tracking the rollout of state marijuana legalization and the negative outcomes. People from all over the nation have come to us, sharing their horror stories about how cannabis wrecked their lives. We have published 100 of such first-person testimonials. The most recent story we published was about Stephen, a teen boy who started smoking pot at age 14 and was dead by 17. Another mom declared, “it only took 1 year for marijuana to kill my son.” Her son Jolo ran out into the road during a schizophrenic episode after threatening all afternoon to commit suicide. Then there was the workplace incident where a crane operator under the influence of cannabis dropped 5 tons of steel on a construction worker. We have told the stories of a 1987 Amtrak train crash killing 16. The limo driver who killed 20 members of a family in New York, a Church bus crash in Texas where 13 people died, each of these are marijuana impaired drivers killing innocent victims. Most importantly, we have tracked news reports nationwide of child deaths because of marijuana impaired adults. Babies sleeping with and smothered by a stoned mother, toddlers left in hot cars, drownings, fires, and vicious dogs where adults were too stoned to rescue the child, violent attacks and car crashes. One father put his dog and the diaper bag in the car, yet forgot the toddler. He ran over and killed his 2 year old son. At least 250 children have died in these child abuse and neglect cases, just since Colorado voted for recreational marijuana. As you consider burdening Virginia’s social services with this new industry, parents urge you to fully investigate the risks, harms and social ills of this drug. The social costs to marijuana will be 10 times the tax revenue. Parents Opposed to Pot is firmly opposed to commercial marijuana. Submitted by: Kimberly Hartke representing: PotPot.org MomsStrong.org JennifersMessengers.org EveryBrainMatters.org StopPot.org Contact info: Kimberly Hartke Reston, Virginia Kim.hartke@gmail.com 703-860-2711

Last Name: Wilson Organization: UFCW Local 400 Locality: Washington

The United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 400 represents over 10,000 members in Virginia who work in grocery retail, food processing and healthcare. Nationally, UFCW represents over 1.3 million workers in highly regulated industries including the emerging legal cannabis industry. Our cannabis work in multiple states in growing and cultivating facilities, manufacturing, and processing facilities, and in laboratories and dispensaries, including in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Wherever cannabis is legalized, we are committed to building family sustaining jobs and a strong, diverse, and skilled workforce. UFCW Local 400 supports the legalization of recreational cannabis in Virginia with the addition of labor peace agreements as a condition of cannabis licensure and renewal. A labor peace agreement is an agreement between an employer and a bona fide labor organization in which the parties agree to maintain labor peace. Such agreements protect the government’s interests by prohibiting labor organizations and their members from engaging in strikes, boycotts, picketing and any other interference with the employer’s business. In return, the employer agrees not to interfere with efforts by the labor union to communicate with, and attempt to organize and represent, the employer’s workers. At its core, these negotiated labor peace agreements create an orderly and fair process for workers to decide whether they want or don’t want representation. Access to representation helps ensure that a broad range of workers can benefit from the fledgling industry, especially workers from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition in the past. Unions and front-line cannabis workers can be key partners in equitable hiring and establishing hiring centers and training programs that ensure diverse, skilled, and long tenured workforces. First, we must decouple the new industry from an unjust criminal justice system and ensure that workers can organize without interference. Other states have included labor peace requirements for cannabis licensure. California, New Jersey, and New York require cannabis operators to sign agreements requiring labor peace. Pennsylvania and Illinois incentivize operators with a merit-based system that gives points for labor peace agreements. Each of these states faced similar questions and arguments about labor peace and found that labor peace requirements in cannabis were good and consistent with state and federal law. A study at San Francisco Airport concluded that labor peace requirements “dramatically reduced turnover, improved worker morale and [resulted in] greater work effort.” Unions in general enhance worker’s job satisfaction leading to higher productivity and quality of output. A workforce comprised of union members is characterized by reduced turnover, which saves the business money in the long term with less spending on frequent training and induction of new employees. The nascent Virginia cannabis industry presents an unparalleled opportunity to build a new kind of industry for Virginia, one that redresses historical and continuing harms and gives workers an opportunity to exercise workplace democracy to improve both the industry and Virginia communities. Policymakers must embrace principles of equity and workplace democracy from recruitment to career advancement to build a shared culture of equality. One strong mechanism to do so is the labor peace agreement.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Richmond

I urge you to define "social equity" to mean more than simply hiring 10 impacted people. VA lawmakers should eliminate the employer loophole that qualifies businesses that hire 10 impacted people for a social equity license. People most impacted by the war on drugs deserve a fair & equitable share of the legal market. Virginia lawmakers should commit 70%—not 30%—of tax revenues to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, so they can do meaningful reparations work in Black & Brown communities and provide robust financing to social equity licensees.

Last Name: Khaddage Locality: Henrico

I urge you to define "social equity" to mean more than simply hiring 10 impacted people. VA lawmakers should eliminate the employer loophole that qualifies businesses that hire 10 impacted people for a social equity license. People most impacted by the war on drugs deserve a fair & equitable share of the legal market. Virginia lawmakers should commit 70%—not 30%—of tax revenues to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, so they can do meaningful reparations work in Black & Brown communities and provide robust financing to social equity licensees.

Last Name: v Locality: arlington

Just do the right thing people, think of the darned tax revenue Virginia would get!

End of Comments