Botetourt County sheriff candidate looking to decriminalize marijuana

Local News

One of the Candidates running for Botetourt County Sheriff is looking to decriminalize marijuana use as part of his platform.

WFXR News spoke with William Stowell, who is running as an independent candidate after Attorney General Mark Herring spoke about the topic. On Saturday, Herring said he feels Virginia should start decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and eventually legalize the drug.

Stowell says he isn’t a fan of the AG because of his past blackface scandal, but he does agree with him on this topic.

“I understand that everybody makes mistakes. I wasn’t too happy with him and some of the other things he’s done, but I really stand with him when it comes to the marijuana decriminalization and ultimately legalization. That’s something I’d be willing to work with him on,” said Stowell.

It’s something some Botetourt County residents say they can get behind. 

“There’s a lot of people in prison and things of that nature, like third strike offenses, they end up in prison for a long time for something like marijuana and I know it can cause some overcrowding and things like that. So if he’s looking to solve some of those issues that might be a way of doing it,” said one resident.

Stowell says current marijuana laws can be compared to alcohol prohibition.

“People talk a good game about trying to learn from history but the war on drugs is essentially prohibition morphed into something unbelievably worse than alcohol prohibition,” Stowell said.

Giving anyone charged with possession a second chance is something Stowell relates too. He has a felony on his record from getting three DUI’s and at the moment, can’t legally carry a gun.

“When you’re talking to a police officer, if they don’t have a pistol, they’re going to treat you with dignity and respect because resorting to violence isn’t the first thing they’re going to do,” Stowell said.

That’s an issue more pressing to some voters like Meaghan Wagner than the conversation about decriminalizing marijuana.

“I definitely think the sheriff that represents our county does need to be able to carry a gun. So I’m not necessarily in support of that. I definitely think it’s good to give people a second chance, but I’m not sure if I’d be able to stand behind a candidate for sheriff with something like that behind him,” Wagner said.

Stowell says he is working to get his gun rights back and is hopeful to have them restored before elections in November.

WFXR reached out to Stowell’s opponent Matt Ward, the GOP  candidate for a statement about marijuana laws, but have not heard back at this time.

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