Virginia's Republican candidate for Governor came out Wednesday in support of legalizing medical marijuana, as well as a loosening of punishment for possessing small amounts of the drug.
Citing the high costs of jailing people, Ed Gillespie says he would support a three-strike policy. "And so for a first or second possession offense, I would propose that we not have a criminal charge, and you know a conviction that can dog you for the rest of your life and make it harder to get a job and to do a number of other things," Gillespie told reporters Wednesday morning in Richmond.
On the third offense, though, Gillespie says the criminal justice system should kick in. He doesn't support full decriminalization. "Because I think it sends the wrong signal, especially to teenagers and young adults."
Democrat Ralph Northam has called for full decriminalization of small amounts. Libertarian Cliff Hyra says he’s in favor of full legalization and state regulation. The state has currently commissioned a study of the issue.
Gillespie also laid out other criminal justice policy proposals Monday. Gillespie said he supports raising the felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500. That measure has come up time and time again in the General Assembly and has never passed.
Gillespie also spoke on the importance of helping former felons re-enter society and gain their rights back. He said he would convene a workgroup of previous Governors to study the issue and come up with legislative answers. He did not explicitly support any measure that has come up in the General Assembly before.