The Virginia State Crime Commission is currently studying the topic of decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana.
They want your thoughts on the issue.
“Crime Commission staff values information and insight from parties and stakeholders with an interest in this topic,” said Kristen J. Howard, Executive Director of the Virginia State Crime Commission, in an email. “However, due to the level of interest in this particular study, staff will be unable to meet individually with everyone.”
Which means open up a new Compose window in your email. It’s time to let the powers that be know how you feel about the potential decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia.
Written comments and any other information/materials relevant to this study should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or via traditional mail by 5:00 p.m. Friday, August 25, 2017.
The Crime Commission’s physical address is 1111 East Broad Street, Ste. B036; Richmond, VA 23219.
Study findings will be presented at the October 5, 2017 Crime Commission meeting, which is planned to begin at 10:00 a.m. in Richmond. This meeting is open to the public. Location is TBD and will be revealed later this fall.
It was announced in April that the Crime Commission would be taking on this issue, a process set into motion at the request of Senate Majority Leader “Tommy” Norment, with a push from Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander and the voices of dozens of citizen activists, led in large part by Cindy Cutler, Director of Virginia NORML Jenn Michelle Pedini, and this publication.
“Virginia lawmakers will now be able to introduce decriminalization bills in the General Assembly supported with the facts and conclusions of the decriminalization study,” said Virginia NORML, in a statement.
It is important to understand the distinction between decriminalization, full recreational legalization, and the legalizing of medical marijuana. This current discussion is centered around decriminalization, which would punish adult use with civil fines, rather than jail time. Virginia is making painfully slow progress in easing its medical marijuana laws; full legalization of recreational marijuana use does not feel imminent in Virginia, absent a surprise federal order.
Decriminalization would be a major step, one that would work towards eradicating functionally racist laws. I encourage you to tell the Crime Commission your personal stories. Has your life, or the life of a loved one, been derailed because of current marijuana laws? Tell the stories of careers put on pause, families forcibly separated, and the trauma — and shift in self-identity — that comes with being locked up.
The Crime Commission also needs to be exposed to the other communities across America and the world who have decriminalized marijuana. Google is your friend; show the facts that the sky didn’t fall in this places; talk about all the tax revenue funneled to schools; how easing marijuana laws can lead to less highway fatalities; how much money can be saved at local courts and police departments; and on and on.
You took high school and maybe college English classes for a reason. It’s time to put those skills to use.
Keep up with this issue on AltDaily and at the Decriminalize Norfolk Facebook page.