Via Virginia NORML:
Today, the Virginia State Crime Commission has agreed to undertake an official study of decriminalizing marijuana possession for adults. This is a landmark first step toward marijuana-related criminal justice reform in Virginia, which is currently lags far behind the national trend on marijuana policy. The Commission’s
Senate Majority Leader “Tommy” Norment, in a bold move of leadership, highlighted the need to study the potential of address adult personal use through civil fines, much like traffic tickets, in a request to the Virginia State Crime Commission. This is a significant change from the Commonwealth’s current policy of charging adults in possession of small amounts of marijuana with a class 1 misdemeanor, resulting in jail time, costly fines, driver’s license suspension, and a variety of long-lasting collateral consequences including loss of public housing assistance, federal school loans, and even parental rights.
Now, the commission must honestly and openly examine the data from similarly-situated states to see the benefits and implications of marijuana decriminalization. This is an essential step at reforming Virginia’s egregiously punitive system of marijuana prohibition, clinging to one of the harshest marijuana policies in the United States. Virginia lawmakers will now be able to introduce decriminalization bills in the General Assembly supported with the facts and conclusions of the decriminalization study.
For more background on this story, here is reporting from The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Patrick Wilson, who broke this story via Twitter today: Lawmakers to decide today whether Virginia should study marijuana decriminalization
For more of Virginia NORML, click here.