Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam made Virginia the 27th state to decriminalize marijuana after signing a large criminal legislative packet into law this past weekend.
Upon the approval of the technical amendments, Governor Northam proposed to the General Assembly will go into effect as of July 1st, 2020. While this is not complete legalization, it would remove jail time for simple possession offenders possessing up to one ounce but would implement a civil penalty fine for the offense that would not exceed $25.
In addition to Senate Bill 2, Northam passed Senate Bill 1015 that would not allow any person to be arrested, charged, or denied any rights or privilege for participating in Virginia's medical cannabis program.
Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring states, "The state will become "a more fair, just, and equal place," with the decriminalizing marijuana.
7 things that stuck out to us about Virginia's SB 2 bill:
Possession and consumption penalties:
1. Decriminalizes simple marijuana possession and provides a civil penalty of no more than $25
2. A person's criminal history record information shall not include records of any charges or judgments for such violations and records of such charges or judgments shall not be reported to the Central Criminal Records Exchange
3. The procedure for appeal and trial of any violation of simple possession of marijuana shall be the same as provided by law for misdemeanors
4. The suspended sentence/substance abuse screening provisions and driver's license suspension provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a juvenile
5. The bill defines "marijuana" to include hashish oil and creates a rebuttable presumption that a person who possesses no more than one ounce of marijuana possesses it for personal use
6. Records relating to the arrest, criminal charge, or conviction of possession of marijuana not open to public inspection and disclosure, except in certain circumstances
7. Prohibits employers and educational institutions from requiring an applicant for employment or admission to disclose information related to such arrest, criminal charge, or conviction; and prohibits agencies, officials, and employees of the state and local governments from requiring an applicant for a license, permit, registration or governmental service to disclose information concerning such arrest, criminal charge, or conviction
We must say kudos to Gov. Ralph Northam and the people of Virginia for their forward thinking with decriminalizing marijuana. Welcome to the doors of the Green Rush!
"This means close to 30,000 people a year will no longer be labeled as criminals and no longer will suffer the negative repercussions of a criminal conviction," says Senator Adam Ebbin.
Image Cred: pbs