Virginia has been a notorious beacon of anti-cannabis legislation on the East Coast—a region that otherwise has recently been embracing cannabis legalization. However, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would decriminalize cannabis.
Senate Bill 2 passed the Finance and Appropriations Committee and would decriminalize cannabis throughout the state. “It is time to recognize that the prohibition on cannabis has failed, and move together away from an outdated system that has disproportionately affected people of color in the Commonwealth,” said Adam Ebbin, a Virginia State Senator representing Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.
Instead of being considered a misdemeanor, simple possession of small amounts of cannabis would require violators to pay a $50 fee. Previous records for consumers who were caught in possession of minor amounts of cannabis and were charged would also be cleared. “All Virginians deserve access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system,” said Gov. Ralph Northam. “My proposed criminal justice reform legislation and budget initiatives will combat mass incarceration, increase supports for returning citizens, and ensure meaningful second chances for those who have paid their debts to society. This is a bold step towards a more just and inclusive Commonwealth, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass these measures into law.”
The bill will next need to clear the Finance Committee in order to advance further and become enacted.
Things in Virginia are finally starting to shift for the better in favor of cannabis legalization. Gov. Northam is in favor of legal cannabis, and state lawmakers have even filed a bill to legalize cannabis. If this trend continues, at least medical or decriminalized cannabis on a larger scale will be a reality soon.