September 22, 2016
This weekend, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe posed for a photo (below) with notorious pothead Willie Nelson, and a container of weed.
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Marijuana is illegal in Virginia, and the law is enforced; over 20,000 people were arrested on marijuana charges last year alone.
McAuliffe, who opposes legalization or even decriminalization, smiled goofily in the photo as he sat with a can of “Willie’s Reserve,” Nelson’s marijuana line. A grinder and an ashtray sat on the table next to the container of weed.
Willie’s Reserve is grown and sold in Colorado and Washington, where it’s legal.
Local activists pointed to the hypocrisy of the photo-op:
“No one would like Willie Nelson to be arrested, or the governor—who unlike thousands of Virginians this year—was not arrested for sitting with another privileged white man with marijuana and paraphernalia in their presence,” Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told The Intercept.
Last year under McAuliffe, black people were three times as likely to get arrested for marijuana as whites.
A spokesman for McAuliffe said the governor “wouldn’t know marijuana or related paraphernalia if it walked up and shook his hand.”
But Pedini said that just further proves the problems with his policies: “…even if the governor wants to admit his willful ignorance to this nontoxic substance that thousands of his constituents consume on a regular basis, if he is so ignorant of it, then he probably should not be dictating policies on stuff that he doesn’t even appear to understand.”