In addition to other topics in an exhaustive reform agenda, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that he would like to see small amounts of cannabis decriminalized.
“All Virginians deserve access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system,” said Gov. Northam in a press release. “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 plan set in place by Northam is to decriminalize simple possession of cannabis, replacing jail time or high fines with a $50 penalty. He also plans to clear the records of individuals who have been previously convicted of simple cannabis possession.
“This administration continues to demonstrate its dedication to comprehensive criminal justice reform,” added Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran in the governor’s press release. “The impact of this legislative package is substantial and transformative. Our parole reform bills will make many more offenders eligible for discretionary parole. and the elimination of driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fees and fines and non-driving related offenses will affect hundreds of thousands of people.”
In addition to cannabis reform, the package would reform parole, raise the felony larceny threshold, raise the age of juvenile hearings in adult court, and get rid of license suspension for things like unpaid fines and fees. A full list of planned reforms can be found here.