Lawmakers in the state of Virginia have voted this month to no longer punish people with jail time for having small amounts of marijuana. A bill called S B 2 passed the House by a vote of 56 to 36 and passed in the Senate with a vote of 27 to 12.
Adam P. Ebbin introduced the bill on November 18, 2019. “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,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, who carried the legislation in the Senate.
Those who possess up to one ounce of pot will instead face a fine of $25 instead of the $500 fine and 30 days in jail that is the current law. All that’s left is for governor Ralph Northam to sign off on the bill which received strong support from both parties. Northam had previously favored an earlier version of the bill. If he approves this bill, the law could go in effect by July 1, 2020.
Recreational marijuana use will still remain illegal in Virginia but the state does have a medical marijuana program.
“This is an enormous victory for Virginians, a super majority of whom have for many years opposed the continued criminalization of marijuana possession,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform Marijuana Laws.