State Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, is not happy with the timing of this week’s cannabis legalization in Virginia, which will become the first southern state to allow recreational use of marijuana.
“I am not for legalizing July 1. I’m pissed about it to be honest because I was on the subcommittee and we had laid out a plan by 2024,” the local state senator said in an interview with the Star-Exponent following a recent local business anniversary celebration.
“Because you know what’s being done? Rush this thing through and we’re going to have people getting in trouble, illegal stuff going on. Seeds are illegal. How do you grow your four plants?” Reeves said.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam led his party in the spring to expedite legalization of simple marijuana possession three years earlier than planned.
“Marijuana laws were explicitly designed to target communities of color, and Black Virginians are disproportionately likely to be stopped, charged, and convicted. Today, Virginia took a critical step to right these wrongs and restore justice to those harmed by decades of over-criminalization,” the governor said in a statement in April.
Reeves, a former narcotics detective who now runs an insurance agency, helped draft the legislation that laid a framework for legalization several years down the road.
“It was originally a 500-some page bill and we methodically went through it,” he said in the recent interview. ”We didn’t want ABC as the enforcement agency. We need to set up a whole different system for it and the committee worked … all these legitimate companies that came in, set it up to do medical marijuana – what did you just do to those folks? What do I need medical marijuana for if I can just go get it?”
Reeves commented on the criminalization of cannabis.
“Here’s what really drives me crazy, they’re talking about weed in the Black community. Well, guess who gets first right of refusal for being weed dealers? Those same people in the Black community that have violations of marijuana offenses,” he said. “What are you doing, what are you saying to that community?”
Without a legislative framework in place, marijuana legalization will drive people to the black market, Reeves added. He challenged federal representatives to address the issue.
“You have Congress—pass the freakin’ bill. You have an overwhelming amount of states that have legalized it. Why don’t they pass the bill so states aren’t in conflict?” he said.
The state senator will be in Richmond Aug. 2 for a special session to fill judicial vacancies and allocate more than $4.3 billion in federal relief funding.
He looked ahead to the November election, saying Republicans “have one of the most diverse tickets we’ve ever had.”
The GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, is a Black female and its candidate for attorney general, Jason Miyares, a Cuban-American. GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin is white.
“If you look at the Democrats, and I’m an old white guy again, they have two old white guys,” Reeves said of Terry McAuliffe for governor and Mark Herring for attorney general on the Democratic tickets in November.
Lieutenant governor nominee Hala Ayala is an Afro-Latina female.
“What does that say about their party?” he added. “I think our party is moving forward. We have a phenomenal slate of candidates. I think we have a phenomenal chance of winning.”
Reeves, owner of a State Farm office, said his business was not hurt much by COVID.
“We do a lot of stuff online already, State Farm-wise, we’re bond, other than pay fluctuations where insurance companies decided to discount insurance for that time,” he said. “People are a little upset that rates are going back up. They did that because it’s based on driving. Under COVID, people weren’t driving so now they’re driving again.”
The state senator, in the June 19 interview, didn’t feel things were quite yet back to normal with pandemic restrictions. The state of emergency in Virginia will end this week on June 30, he noted.
“I think you’ll see everything back up, but I think we’re always going to have a … there’s going to be people who are always wearing masks,” Reeve said. “It’s kind of like overseas, I’ve been to Taiwan a couple times and people are always wearing masks.”
In Culpeper on Juneteenth, the Virginia state senator said he grew up around the holiday growing up in Texas, where it originated in 1866 following the freeing of the last enslaved people after the Civil War.
Asked about it being made a national holiday, Reeves responded, “Whatever. We’re going to have so many national holidays nobody’s going to be at work again. I don’t know. Honestly I thought we already had it, we passed it, but like I said I grew up with Juneteenth.”