Virginia General Assembly considers decriminalization
Last update: January 23, 2016
The Virginia General Assembly began its 2016 session on January 22 with several bills already pending to significantly reduce the harsh penalties for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state. Sen.Thomas Garret’s SB 613 would put an end to the automatic six-month driver’s license suspensions for a first-time marijuana possession charge. Meanwhile, Sen. Adam Ebbin’s SB 104 would reduce the penalty for first offense possession from a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail to a modest $100 civil fine.
In addition, this year senators and delegates are considering other decriminalization bills and offense expungement bills. MPP urges you to contact your representatives and let them know that you favor this common-sense legislation.
2015 saw the passage of HB 1445, an extremely narrow law that provides some relief to a very minute percentage of the commonwealth’s patients who could benefit from access to medical cannabis. It allows patients with intractable epilepsy to avoid a conviction, but not an arrest, for possessing certain low- or no-THC medical cannabis oils. It does not provide for any in-state access to these treatments.
A Quinnipiac poll released in April 2015 found that 86% of Virginia voters support the legalization of medical marijuana.
No medical marijuana bills have been introduced yet in 2016, but you can click here to let your legislators know that this issue is important to you.
Please write your legislators and ask them to support the will of their constituents 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.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Virginia, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.