Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring is currently seeking applications for an attorney to serve as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first full-time, dedicated cannabis attorney, according to July 19 press release.
The job description includes serving as general counsel to the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority while also assisting other Virginia state agencies regarding cannabis regulations and laws. Attorney General Herring supports the recent changes to the state’s cannabis laws.
“By decriminalizing and now legalizing simple possession we’ve taken the most important and urgent steps to stop the harm caused by cannabis prohibition,” said Attorney General Herring. “Now comes the hard work of building a safe, stable regulatory system that protects public health and the environment and ensures a safe, fair, and equitable marketplace that encourages opportunity amongst the communities who have been most harmed by the War on Drugs approach of the past. I’m hiring a dedicated attorney to help guide the Commonwealth’s efforts because I am committed to getting this right, and to making sure that we keep Virginia at the forefront of national efforts to craft a more just, fair, and sensible system for dealing with cannabis.”
Potential applicants to serve as Virginia’s cannabis attorney must be admitted to the Virginia State Bar or eligible for admission, and should possess experience in business law, litigation experience in both state and federal court, representation of government agencies, and a strong knowledge of state and federal regulation of controlled substances.
Attorney General Herring’s Involvement
Herring has consistently proven to be an ally of the cannabis industry. According to his announcement, during the 2021 General Assembly Session, Attorney General Herring helped establish a legal, regulated adult-use cannabis system in Virginia.
He called for decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis, and to address past convictions, and a move towards legal and regulated adult use.
He also he cited the illogical nature of criminal convictions for possession, the expense and social costs of enforcing the current system, and way the War on Drugs impacts people and communities of color.
Attorney General Herring again showed support when data from 2018 showed a record number of arrests for cannabis possession. In December 2019, Herring held a cannabis summit for policymaking stakeholders in Virginia that focused on policy and included experts from attorneys generals’ offices, state agencies and legislative operations in states that have legalized cannabis, as well as cannabis policy experts.
Adult-Use Cannabis in Virginia
Since July 1, adults 21 years and older in the Commonwealth of Virginia can legally consume and possess cannabis. The new law was put into place from legislation that passed in the Virginia Legislature back in April and was promptly signed by Governor Ralph Northam.
The state-regulated cannabis market, however, will not open for business until January 1, 2024. The law made Virginia the first southern state to end the prohibition on recreational pot use.
“As of July 1, adults 21 years and older in the Commonwealth of Virginia can legally use and possess cannabis. In addition, The Cannabis Control Authority launched on July 1, but it will not complete cannabis regulations or begin accepting applications for businesses before 2023,” the agency explained on its website. The new law stems from legislation that passed in the Virginia legislature back in April and was promptly signed by the state’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam.
Now’s the time for someone to fulfill the role of the state’s first full-time cannabis attorney. For those who are qualified, see if you measure up to the new position.