Del. Lee Carter, D-50th

Del. Lee Carter is calling on Virginia lawmakers to devote all future tax revenue from the sale of legalized cannabis products to reparations for Black and Indigenous Virginians and to establish a “Governor’s Commission on Reparations” to guide the process. 

Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced his support for legalizing cannabis after a report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) projected that legalization could bring in up to $300 million in new state tax revenue annually. The report also found that Black Virginians have been arrested and convicted for marijuana offenses at much higher rates than white Virginians.

“Every single penny of tax revenue from legalized cannabis should go to reparations – that’s a moral commitment our history demands of us and a necessary first step in Virginia,” Carter, D-50th, said in a press statement Monday. 

In an interview Monday, Carter said he isn’t aware of any other states that have taken similar steps to fund reparations with the tax revenue generated by legal marijuana sales but said he hopes Virginia “can set the model” for other states. 

“If you look at a lot of the conversation around reparations, it boils down to, ‘Ok, where do we pull the money from?’ and that’s where it dissolves. We’ve got this opportunity where there’s this wave of impending action on cannabis legalization throughout the states, and at least at the state level, states can try to atone for their complicity in these crimes in a way that uses a new revenue source rather than devolving into the fight of, ‘Where do we pull the money from?’” Carter said. 

Carter sponsored legislation in 2019 and 2020 to legalize marijuana in Virginia, but both times the bills were killed in General Assembly subcommittees. But he said he is confident legalization is on the horizon. 

“I think cannabis products will be legalized here in Virginia. I think that it will happen relatively quickly. I don’t know if it will be this year, next year or the year following. But it’s definitely coming,” Carter said.

In his news release, Carter outlined what historical injustices against Black and Indigenous Virginians should be considered by a proposed Governor’s Commission on Reparations. They include: “slavery, genocide, the domestic terrorism of the Jim Crow-era, redlining and restrictive covenants in banking and housing, unconstitutional neglect of public schools, police brutality and mass incarceration [and] the destruction and displacement of Black communities through ‘urban renewal’ projects.” 

Carter emphasized the need for parallel federal action on reparations, including passing H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. The bill is co-sponsored by five members of Virginia’s congressional delegation, including Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, Rep. Don McEachin, D-4th, Rep. Don Beyer, D-8th, Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10th, and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11th.

“The impending legalization of cannabis presents an opportunity for Virginia's government to begin making amends for its complicity and active participation in some of the most horrific human rights abuses in this nation's history,” Carter said in his release. “I urge all of my colleagues to join me in the commitment to using this revenue stream as the first of several dedicated to this purpose, and I hope that Virginia's action on reparations can spur the federal government to take its own action in the immediate future."

Carter is the only self-described socialist serving in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was elected to a second term in 2019 to represent the 50th House of Delegates district, which includes the City of Manassas and parts of Western Prince William County. 

Carter is running for re-election this year and has also said he may join the already crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to run for governor, but said Monday his decision is “still up in the air.”  

“It depends on what I hear from other candidates,” Carter said. “If the issues that are important to people who are struggling are at the forefront with gubernatorial candidates, then there will be no need for me to run. It’s very much determined by the field.”

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(15) comments


Cannabis is a gateway drug to more dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin.


How about using his paycheck, flipping idiot


In New York and other jurisdictions, cannabis legalization has been delayed by the issue of social equity, which is the concept of reparations for those harmed by the war on drugs, many of which were minorities. My view is that, unlike slavery, where no direct victims are still alive, reparations for those harmed by the war on drugs should be handled with a commission like the 9-11 or Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement. Those imprisoned for drug offenses, or that suffered in other ways, could receive certain payouts as could the children of those who suffered when their parents were imprisoned. The dire fiscal straits that New York and other state and local governments find themselves in, as a result of COVID-19, could hasten a resolution of the social equity issue and remove it as an impediment to cannabis legalization. .."


How about using that money for more police, less crime and eliminating that car tax and inspection. That would help all Virginia's not just a selected few. What this moron is doing is trying to buy votes. As a Hispanic I find this action racist.


Another white shamed idiot.

Mrs. Silence Dogood

Who voted for this gentleman? Never take this person serious. Just everyone slowly walk away. Bad people have bad ideas.


This proposal is nothing but a cheap political stunt. Here's why: My great great grandfather was a Native American. I can prove it. I'm White. Do I receive compensation? What if someone is mixed-race? Do they receive partial compensation? Is this for current Virginia residents only? What about families that originated in Virginia but no longer live in Virginia? The "woke" politicians that support this disaster are short-sighted imbeciles.

Jim McCarthy

Seems to me there’s room for discussion about injustices committed by existing folks against Blacks and indigenous Virginians. Slavery was born here in 1619 and it’s vestiges continue to haunt us. Native Americans were deprived (often cheated) of their land without compensation as the US Constitution provides under eminent domain. Del. Carter is offering an opportunity to think about the issue.


Maybe the Africans in Africa should be part of this since they sold them into slavery in the first place. This is total garbage. Every race on earth has suffered at the hands of others. When will this lunacy end? Pay reparations for everything that went wrong in the past is ludicrious.




He's an idiot.


I think somebody is smokin' something.


Seriously? This is the direction we want our state and our country to go? We are going to legalize marijuana to encourage more drug use so that we can pay people for atrocities we did not commit and the people receiving the funds did not experience. Sure. That's extremely logical and in the best interest of future generations. That's the best way to lift everyone up. Or is the goal here to pull everyone down?


A year ago, if the word "epidemic" appeared in the news, it mostly referred to the opioid epidemic. Opioids were involved in 46,802 American overdose deaths in 2018. The nexus between the opioid epidemic and cannabis is that legalization of recreational cannabis has been shown to reduce opioid deaths by about a third. The legalization of recreational cannabis by Colorado in 2014 and other states since then, has provided enough data for academic researchers to determine that the reduction in opioid deaths resulting from the legalization of recreational cannabis is very statistically significant. This evidence would tend to support legalization of recreational cannabis in those states that have not yet done so. At least, among those who can be influenced by peer-reviewed scholarly research results.

An interesting result from the research is that just legalizing medical cannabis does not result in a statistically significant reduction in opioid deaths. An explanation for this result may be seen in the typical media accounts of particularly heart-breaking opioid overdose deaths. Many of the news stories involve someone who years ago had a drug abuse problem, but who had apparently been drug-free for many years. This person's friends and relatives were very proud that the person had turned their life around and now had a good job and family. Then the person is found dead on the floor from an opioid overdose.

The reason that researchers found that, after accounting for all variables, opioid deaths are so much lower in jurisdictions with legal recreational cannabis, is that some people who might otherwise use opioids are using cannabis instead. No one has ever died directly from a cannabis overdose. For someone trying to conceal their drug use from the world, getting a prescription for state-legal medical cannabis could be problematic. This raises the question of why the person in the story did not use cannabis instead of opioids? Presumably, who ever sold the illegal opioids to the person could likely have provided the person with illegal cannabis as well. However, illegal cannabis may not be a substitute for opioids for someone trying to conceal their drug use. Illegal cannabis is generally sold as flower to be smoked. Because of the smell and factors such as reddening of the eyes, smoking is difficult to conceal from those people close to one. State-legal recreational cannabis is sold either as flower or in edible form. Edible cannabis use is as easy to conceal as opioids. Thus, legalization of recreational cannabis can reduce opioid deaths by about a third, but legalizing medical cannabis has no statistically significant reduction in opioid deaths...."


This won't solve anything. It won't change anyone's mind. It will never be enough.

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