Northam calls for an end to death penalty, legalization of marijuana
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia is moving closer to becoming the first southern state to abolish capital punishment.
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate recently approved bills that would end the death penalty.
“What really bothers me is now with technology with DNA there are a number of individuals who’ve been executed that didn’t commit the crime,” Gov. Ralph Northam said.
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According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1976 only Texas has executed more people than Virginia.
“I think Virginia needs to do the right thing and end the death penalty,” Northam said.
When a bill to abolish the death penalty hits his desk, Northam has said he’ll sign it without hesitation.
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Another controversial piece of legislation supported by many Democrats including the governor is the legalization of the use of marijuana.
“A couple of years ago we introduced legislation and I was part of that too, to be able to use marijuana medicinally. There are a lot of indications, certainly, in my background in child neurology, we use cannabis to treat intractable epilepsy and it’s worked very well,” Northam said.
The governor has also said current laws are discriminatory and it’s time to make things equal.
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“It’s also an equity issue quite frankly. If you look at the statistics, white people and people of color use marijuana at about the same rate. People of color are about three-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested and four times more likely to be convicted, Northam said.
A recent Wason Center for Civic Leadership poll shows voters largely support legalizing marijuana and repealing the death penalty.