Legislation Filed in Virginia to Legalize Marijuana

A legislative proposal that would legalize marijuana for those 21 and older, while decriminalizing it for those under 21, has been filed in Virginia’s House of Representatives.

House Bill 2371 was filed by Delegate Steve Heretick (D) along with four cosponsors. The measure would remove all criminal penalties for the personal possession of marijuana for those 21 and older, while legalizing marijuana retail outlets. These outlets would be taxed at 9.7% in addition to the state’s current sales tax. Around 2/3rds of the tax revenue would go to the general fund, with the remainder going to public education.

According to the bill’s official summary, it “also decriminalizes marijuana possession for persons under 21 years of age and provides a civil penalty of no more than $50 for a first violation, $100 for a second violation, and $250 for a third or subsequent violation.”

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Bill to Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalty and Allow Marijuana Exungements Passed by Virginia Subcommittee

A House of Representatives Subcommittee in Virginia has passed legislation that would reduce the penalty for first time marijuana possession charges.

The proposal – Senate Bill 954 – would reduce “the penalties for possession of marijuana to a fine of not more than $500”, and would allow for such charges to be expunged (removed) from criminal records (for someone’s first offense). Under current law minor marijuana possession can result in a fine as well as up to 30 days in jail. The proposed law states that those wanting to expunge a past marijuana conviction must pay a $150 fee, which would be directed to the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Epidemic Fund.

The House Committee for Courts of Justice Subcommittee passed the measure in a 7 to 1 vote. Last month the the full Virginia Senate approved the bill 38 to 2. Senator Thomas Norment, the measure’s primary sponsor, says that although the measure is far from perfect and not as progressive as he’d prefer, it still “makes a substantial step forward.”

Read moreBill to Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalty and Allow Marijuana Exungements Passed by Virginia Subcommittee

Virginia Senate Passes Bill to Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalty, Allow Marijuana Expungements

Legislation that would reduce the penalty for, and allow for the expungement of, first time marijuana possession charges has been passed by Virginia’s full Senate.

marijuana terminologyThe Senate voted 38 to 2 today to pass Senate Bill 954, which was filed by Senator Tommy Norment (R). The measure “Reduces the penalties for possession of marijuana to a fine of not more than $500”, whereas currently such a charge can result in up to 30 days in jail. The bill also provides that a first offense for possession of marijuana is eligible for expungement, given the individual charged pays a $150 fee (which would  go to the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Epidemic Fund)

Senator Norment says that although the measure is far from perfect and isn’t as large of a law change as he’d prefer, it still “makes a substantial step forward.”

Read moreVirginia Senate Passes Bill to Reduce Marijuana Possession Penalty, Allow Marijuana Expungements

Virginia: New Bipartisan Bill Would Decriminalize Marijuana Possession, Reduce Penalty for Distribution

A bipartisan group of state legislators in Virginia have filed a measure that would decriminalize marijuana possession, and reduce the penalty for distributing up to half a pound.

According to its official summary, House Bill 1063 “Decriminalizes marijuana possession and provides a civil penalty of no more than $250 for a first violation and $1,000 for a second or subsequent violation.” Under current law, a first offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum jail sentence of 30 days, and subsequent offenses are a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill “creates a rebuttable presumption that a person who possesses no more than one-half ounce of marijuana possesses it for personal use and provides that the existing suspended sentence and substance abuse screening provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a minor.”

The bill also “decreases the penalty for distribution or possession with intent to sell more than one-half but not more than five pounds of marijuana from a Class 5 felony to a Class 6 felony.”

Read moreVirginia: New Bipartisan Bill Would Decriminalize Marijuana Possession, Reduce Penalty for Distribution

Virginia Senate Majority Leader Working on Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana

One of Virginia’s top lawmakers is currently working on legislation that would decriminalize marijuana throughout the state.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican, says he’s in the process of drafting a bill that would remove the possibility of jail time for those caught possessing marijuana. The measure is likely to effect those caught possessing an ounce or less. Under current Virginia law, those caught possessing up to half an ounce of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor and imprisoned for up to 30 days; for subsequent offenses the potential jail time rises to a year. Possessing over half an ounce is a felony punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison.

Norment’s announcement that he’s working on a decriminalization measure comes shortly after the release of a State Crime Commission study which found that such a law would prevent over 10,000 arrests every year in Virginia. Not only would this save taxpayer money to persecute and imprison marijuana users, it will prevent the life-altering consequences associated with a marijuana misdemeanor.

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Virginia Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Pharmacy Distribution of CBD and THC-A Oil

Legislation legalizing the production and distribution of CBD and THC-A oil has been signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Senate Bill 1027 was signed into law by Governor McAuliffe on Thursday. His signatures comes after a unanimous vote in the state’s Senate and House of Representatives (137 to 0).

Senate Bill 1027 “Authorizes a pharmaceutical processor, after obtaining a permit from the Board of Pharmacy (the Board) and under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, to manufacture and provide cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil to be used for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.” The measure is an expension of a law passed in 2014 that legalized the medical use of CBD and THC-A oil, but without authorizing a legal means of obtaining it.

Read moreVirginia Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Pharmacy Distribution of CBD and THC-A Oil

Virginia Bill to End Driver’s License Suspensions for Marijuana Possession Passes Full Legislature

Virginia’s full legislature has passed a measure that would end driver’s license suspensions for simple marijuana possession.

Senate Bill 1091 was given approval by the Senate with a 38 to 2 vote, and was quickly passed by the House of Representatives with a rare unanimous vote (95 to 0). The measure now goes to Governor Terry McAuliffe for consideration. A spokeperson for McAuliffe says he’s likely to sign it into law.

Below is the official summary for the measure, which was filed by Senator Adam Ebbin (D) and cosponsored by Senator William Stanley (R):

Read moreVirginia Bill to End Driver’s License Suspensions for Marijuana Possession Passes Full Legislature

Virginia Bill to Allow Expungement of Cannabis Convictions for those Under 21 Coming Soon

expungementRepublican State Senator Ruan McDougle, Chairman of Virginia’s Republican Caucus, has announced that he will soon introduce a bill to allow those under 21 to have cannabis convictions expunged (removed) from their records. According to McDougle, the expungement proposal will be one of several criminal justice reform measures that will be introduced in the upcoming legislative session which begins in January.

According to McDougle, a former prosecutor, those under 21 should be given an opportunity to remove simple possession cases from their record in order to increase their chances of receiving employment. McDougle says the measure would apply only to personal possession cases, and not distribution cases. Those 21 and older who were charged with a cannabis possession offense before they turned 21 would also be able to have the charge expunged.

Read moreVirginia Bill to Allow Expungement of Cannabis Convictions for those Under 21 Coming Soon

Virginia Legislature Approves Bill to Legalize Medical Use of Cannabis Extracts

Cannabis tincture.
Cannabis tincture.

Virginia’s Legislature has given approval to House Bill 1445, a proposal that legalizes the use of cannabis extracts (such as oils and tinctures) for the treatment of epilepsy. The measure was approved unanimously by the state’s House of Representatives, and 37 to 1 by the state’s Senate.

The proposal will now go to Governor Terry McAuliffe for consideration. McAuliffe will have the option of either signing it into law, allowing it to become law without his signature, or vetoing. However, given there was such strong consensus in the Legislature, there would be more than enough support to override a veto if McAuliffe goes that route.

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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