As millions of Americans from every corner of the country flood the streets to protest against the over-policing of black and brown communities, the Virginia Senate has approved a bill that would greatly advance that cause. Introduced by Sen. Louise Lucas, Senate Bill 5029 would prohibit police search and seizures based solely on the odor of marijuana. The legislation, which passed with a 21-15 vote, has been lauded by activists who say it is a small step towards ending the aggressive over policing certain communities have had to endure for decades.
“This is a small but important step to decriminalizing black and brown bodies of being targeted by this longtime policing tool, which was really created by politicizing the war on drugs,” says Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, a nonprofit that is pushing for the statewide legalization of marijuana. Even after the state decriminalized marijuana back in July, she says, police stops initiated on the smell of marijuana have continued to adversely…
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