Gov. Terry McAuliffe hung out with Willie Nelson on Saturday night, but did he neglect to enforce the laws of the state he governs?
McAuliffe doesn’t know whether marijuana was present, his spokesman, Brian Coy, tells Style. And besides, he says, the governor doesn’t know what pot looks like.
At least that’s what Coy told The Richmond Times-Dispatch, which reported on the photo Monday: McAuliffe “wouldn’t know marijuana or related paraphernalia if it walked up and shook his hand.”
McAuliffe visited the country star in his trailer during Fair Aid 2016 in Bristow. “The governor swung by unannounced just to say hi to the performer,” Coy says.
In a picture posted on Twitter by @Bioannie1 — Nelson’s wife — a jar labeled Willie’s Reserve is visible on the table between them. That’s a line of marijuana products launched by the singer and songwriter this year.
The governor has expressed his support for legalizing medical marijuana but remains opposed to recreational use. Nelson long has been an advocate for full weed legalization. Coy says the governor is aware of Nelson’s stance: “They disagree on that.”
Possession is a misdemeanor in the commonwealth. Asked whether Nelson should be arrested next time he’s in Virginia now that he is known to possess it, Coy says they “don’t have any comment on that.”
A 2015 study by the Drug Policy Alliance, based on state data reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shows that arrests for marijuana possession in Virginia increased by 76 percent between 2003 and 2013. During that period, such arrests decreased nationwide.
The study showed a racial disparity, with a 106 percent increase in state arrests of blacks and a 44-percent increase of whites. In 2013, black Virginians accounted for nearly half of the arrests for marijuana possession, despite making up only 20 percent of the population.
But data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, gathered between 2002 and 2009, suggests that marijuana use rates are similar among white and black Virginians — 11.3 percent of blacks and 9.1 percent of whites report using the drug.