Put marijuana policy reform on the agenda in Virginia
Although no legislators stepped up to the plate in 2014 to champion marijuana policy reform, Gov. Terry McAuliffe appears ready for a more compassionate approach to marijuana. In August, the governor indicated he would support a medical marijuana law if it made it to his desk. Please ask your legislators to support a medical cannabis law that would help treat seriously ill Virginians!
Earlier this year, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and Maryland decriminalized simple possession of marijuana. Meanwhile, on Virginia’s southern border, North Carolina has had a weak decriminalization law on the books since the 1970s. Virginia lags behind, though: No legislator even introduced this modest reform in 2014. 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.
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 23,402 marijuana-related arrests reported by state law enforcement in 2012, 89% were for mere 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.