Attorney General Mark Herring says he will push Virginia to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults — a first for a statewide official in the commonwealth, which has traditionally taken a conservative approach toward drugs.

Other prominent Virginia politicians have previously called for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, including the two Democrats who were on the ballot with Herring in 2017, Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Herring went a step further in recent days, in a newspaper op-ed and remarks to reporters, by calling for decriminalization as a first step toward full legalization.

“Criminalization of marijuana possession is not working for Virginia,” he said at a gathering with reporters Saturday. “We are needlessly creating criminals and getting a lot of convictions. . . . And this whole system — the weight of it — falls disproportionately on African Americans and people of color. There is a better, smarter way to approach cannabis, and it starts with decriminalizing simple possession of small amounts, addressing past convictions and moving thoughtfully toward legal and regulated adult use.”

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