Local law enforcement agencies weigh in on new date for marijuana legalization

‘Frankly, this is a great day to be a drug dealer in Virginia’

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – As the commonwealth prepares to legalize marijuana in just a few short months, local law enforcement agencies have major concerns about the legislation.

But supporters say the commonwealth is making sweeping progress in criminal justice reform

“Frankly, this is a great day to be a drug dealer in Virginia,” said Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall.

Hall said he has several concerns that range from impaired driving to an increase in illegal sales of marijuana.

“So on July 1 marijuana will become legal to possess. I don’t know how they’re dealing with all the various forms of it, but in general terms, legal, the commercial market illegal sale of marijuana will not be ready until 2024,” Hall said.

Supporters also hope to see appropriate controls in place.

“I think it’s the right step, and I think the fact that the General Assembly in a bipartisan way. Move is up to July on legalization as long as we’ve got appropriate oversight I think it’s important,” Sen. Mark Warner said.

Members of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police are concerned about the accelerated schedule and that officers might not have enough time to train.

“There’s a lot of complicating factors to making this happen,” VACP Executive Director Dana Schard said.

Some police departments are starting new education and training as soon as today, but some still worry there might not be enough time to answer every question.

“There’s just a lot of things to take into consideration that we wish we had more time for so we’re very much concerned about this accelerated schedule, leading to some level of unpreparedness, but our folks will do their best,” Schard said.

The Roanoke County Police Department has started discussing training and enforcement of the change.

About the Author: