Virginia Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

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Virginia Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

Possessing small amounts of marijuana in Virginia will no longer be a criminal offense.

 

Under a bill passed by Virginia legislators this week, someone is caught with less than an ounce of marijuana or marijuana products will face a civil fine of $25. The bill also puts convictions for this level of drug possession under seal so they would not be available to employers or others.

 

This new penalty is in contrast to the criminal penalties under current law. Right now, marijuana possession is punishable by a fine of $500 or 30 days in jail.

 

Supporters of the bill say that current drug laws disproportionately affect minorities, giving them a criminal record that makes it difficult to obtain employment. They note that many other states are undertaking similar reductions in penalties for simple marijuana possession.

 

This bill does not legalize marijuana possession and use, as a handful of states have done. However, legislators approved a bill that would study full legalization in the state.

 

Both Democratic and Republican legislators supported the decriminalization bill. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said he would sign the legislation.

 

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