Republicans largely opposed the proposal.
A key point of contention was a provision in the Senate version to hold a non-binding statewide referendum this fall to gauge public support for the legalization of marijuana. Several Democratic senators said the referendum would give lawmakers more information about public support for legalization statewide and in their districts.
A person familiar with the House side negotiations said the provision is a no-starter for House Democrats, who fear putting marijuana on the ballot could endanger their members. more vulnerable. All 100 House seats are up for the November election, as is the governor’s mansion.
This argument prevailed and the referendum is not included in the agreement in principle.
Legalization of simple possession
The question was also whether the General Assembly should legalize simple possession of marijuana – an ounce or less – by this summer. Senator Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, candidate for governor, led the campaign to legalize marijuana this summer, arguing that if lawmakers intend to legalize marijuana, they should stop punishing people for having it small amounts.
The decision had the support of civil rights groups and some lawmakers in the House, including Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, a sponsor of the measure in the House who was later included in the committee that negotiated the final deal.