RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is calling for the legalization of marijuana.

Herring said Saturday that Virginia should start decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and eventually legalize the drug.

The Democratic attorney general said criminal prosecutions are costly to the state and local governments and disproportionately affect African Americans. Herring made the remarks in an op-ed in the Daily Press and in comments to reporters at a Democratic fundraiser in Richmond.

Herring's announcement won't have any practical impact on marijuana prosecutions, which are typically handled at the local level. But Herring said he hopes his public support for legalization will help spur lawmakers to act.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly has killed past efforts to decriminalize marijuana.

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