Charlottesville rally seeks cannabis legalization in Virginia

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (NEWSPLEX) --
Dozens of cannabis supporters flooded the Charlottesville downtown mall to rally in favor of legalizing marijuana in Virginia.

The rally attendees had one message: legalization.

"I wanted to spread the importance of cannabis liberation," said rally organizer Jes Vegas. "Specifically marijuana legalization, medical marijuana accessibility and local political advocacy."

Vegas says she held the rally at the Freedom Wall to remind supporters that their voices matter.

"It is very important for people to speak up and share their message with their legislators," said Vegas. "That is the most proactive way in this movement."

Many of the protesters said marijuana should not have been illegal to begin with.

"One of the best food sources is hemp, one of the best medicines is hemp." said legalization supporter Robert Rowley. "So there are a lot of economic interests that had a vested interest in making marijuana illegal."

Some protesters like Rowley believe legalization would decrease crime. "People should not be incarcerated for trivial matters." said Rowley. "Myself, I was looking at a 45 year sentence for growing marijuana here in the state of Virginia."

Rally attendee Lennice Werth says it will also change the racial disparities in jails. "Most states these days marijuana arrests are going down, because they're moving in a different direction." said Werth. "In Virginia they're going up and it's almost entirely because of the racial disparities and this is also part of the problem with police and community relationships with police, particularly communities of color."

Others say it'll help those with serious medical conditions.

"There's been a misconception that marijuana was just to get you high," said Vegas. "It's actually saving lives."