Priorities: Pupils or Pot?

by Kerry Dougherty

You can tell a lot about a politician by his or her priorities.

Take Gov. Ralph Northam, for instance.

On February 25th the General Assembly passed a bill requiring Virginia public schools to offer in-person instruction to all students. The original bill, proposed by Sen. Shiobhan Dunnavant, was quite simple and to the point.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. § 1. That each local school division in the Commonwealth shall make in-person learning available to all students by choice of the student’s parent or guardian.

2. That an emergency exists and this act is in force from its passage.

After much foolish debate the second part of the bill was struck. The politicians on the left decided there wasn’t an emergency. No need to force schools to fully reopen before July.

As if we needed more proof of the power of teachers’ unions in Virginia.

Supporters of the bill hoped the governor would put the so-called “emergency clause” back into the law when he signed it, meaning kids in places like Portsmouth would be at their desks before the middle of April.

Fat chance.

Worse, this bill sat on the governor’s desk for more than a month before he got around to signing it on March 30.

Great news, kids! Your school will have to let you come back in July! Remember to say “thank you” to the politicians.

Odd. While Northam appeared to be in no hurry to force public schools to let all kids back in the classroom, he was in a breathless hurry to legalize marijuana.

The bill passed by the General Assembly would have legalized pot on January 1, 2024, with retail sales beginning on the same day.

But this would have somehow required another vote next year. There’s no guarantee that Democrats will control both houses and the governor’s mansion after the November elections, so Northam amended the bill to legalize possession of marijuana on July 1, two and a half years ahead of schedule.

Perhaps Northam’s hoping that voters will be stoned on Election Day and forget all about the mess he made with his out-of-control parole board. Who knows, maybe it’ll work.

I thought he was finished after his blackface/KKK scandal, but this wily politician knew he could just wait it out.

This early legalization leaves the commonwealth in an odd situation though. Possession of an ounce of marijuana will be legal on July 1, but there will be no way to legally buy it in the commonwealth. Unless I’m missing something in the almost-300-page bill.

Look, I’m agnostic on marijuana. I don’t think legalizing it will make the commonwealth a better place to live. On the other hand, the laws are so widely ignored it seems fruitless to keep them on the books.

Speaking of books. I think it’s far more important that we get kids back in school NOW, and five days a week, than we legalize pot.

Clearly the governor doesn’t agree. Priorities.

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.