Virginia Legislature adjourns without considering marijuana policies
After the retirement of long-time marijuana reform advocate Harvey Morgan, and resignation of Alexandria Delegate David Englin, a new legislative advocate for marijuana reform was needed in the Virginia Legislature. Unfortunately, no one was willing to step up to the plate during the 2013 legislative session to champion major reforms. Please write your legislators and ask them to lead the charge next session. You can ask them to call for the state to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol, or to take a more modest reform such as citing and fining – rather than arresting and criminalizing – marijuana users.
There were some sensible proposals introduced in the 2013 session. For example, Del. Roxann Robinson sponsored HB 1867, which would have made school suspensions for marijuana optional, rather than mandatory. Another bill would have allowed for easier expungement of marijuana possession charges from criminal records. Unfortunately, neither bill advanced past the committee stage.
It’s not all bad news, though. Ultra-conservative gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has indicated the federal government shouldn’t interfere with states like Colorado and Washington that have legalized marijuana for adults aged 21 or older. Marijuana reform is gripping the country, and as Mr. Cuccinelli’s comments indicate, even Virginia is not immune to rational marijuana policy reform. If and when legislation is introduced in Virginia, make sure you’re subscribed to our email alerts and you’ll be the first to know.
Learn more about Virginia's marijuana laws
Did you know that in Virginia, of the 22,024 marijuana-related arrests reported by state law enforcement in 2011, 90% were for possession? That same year, nearly half of all reported rapes and 80% of all burglaries were not solved.
In Virginia, possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to 30 days of incarceration along with a $500 fine. Although African-Americans and whites use marijuana at nearly the same rate, the enforcement of marijuana laws has been far from equal. This report by the ACLU found that blacks are about three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Virginia, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.