Virginia Lawmakers to Consider Decriminalizing Cannabis Next Month

By Robert Capecchi, Deputy Director of State Policies, Marijuana Policy Project

When the Virginia Legislaturevirginia convenes in January, a bill to stop criminalizing those who simply possess marijuana will be awaiting consideration.

Today, an individual convicted of marijuana possession in Virginia can be thrown in jail for up to thirty days, fined up to $500, or both! This overly punitive approach can destroy dreams — a criminal conviction makes it harder to get a job, housing, and education. Criminalizing marijuana possession also wastes vast amounts of resources. In 2012, there were more than 20,000 arrests made in Virginia for marijuana possession. It takes time for police to book marijuana users, prosecutors to try cases, and labs to test marijuana. Meanwhile, more than half of all reported rapes and 80% of all burglaries went unsolved.

Read moreVirginia Lawmakers to Consider Decriminalizing Cannabis Next Month

Proposal to Decriminalize Cannabis Filed in Virginia’s Senate

Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin has filed a proposal to decriminalize cannabis.canna

Senate Bill 686 would remove criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, making it a simple $100 ticket rather than an arrestable misdemeanor.

The proposal, which will be considered by the state’s Senate once the Legislature reconvenes in January, would also reduce the criminal penalties for cannabis distribution (and intent to distribute), would create a legal defense for a person cultivating up to six plants for personal use, and would change the state’s paraphernalia laws so that they only apply to an adult who distributes to a minor at least three years his junior.

Read moreProposal to Decriminalize Cannabis Filed in Virginia’s Senate