The state of Virginia has become the 27th state in the nation to decriminalize marijuana this week.
Governor Ralph Northam (D) had made marijuana decriminalization a top priority for this year and it was on Sunday that he announced the approval of a bill that will eliminate jail time for simple marijuana possession. This leaves only a civil penalty with a fine in place.
Marijuana enthusiasts in the state are still hopeful for full legalization, where all penalties for marijuana possession are removed, and sales are typically allowed.
Attorney General Mark Herring says Virginia will become “a more fair, just, and equal place” now that simple possession of marijuana will be decriminalized.
“Decriminalization is an incredibly important first step, and one that many thought we may never see in Virginia, but we cannot stop until we have legal and regulated adult use,” Herring said.
The new law takes effect July 1 if the General Assembly agrees to technical amendments proposed by Northam, reduces penalties for offenses involving the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a civil violation, which means no arrest and no criminal record.
Current laws in the state set fines up to $500, with possible jail time, for an offense classified as a misdemeanor.