In May, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed a decriminalization bill — SB 2/ HB 972 — into law, making Virginia the 27th state to decriminalize simple cannabis possession. Today, the new law officially goes into effect!
Starting today, possession of one ounce of cannabis or less is punishable by up to a $25 fine — the lowest fine of any decriminalization state. You can read a full summary of the new law here.
While this reform is long overdue in Virginia, broader reform — legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults — is needed to further reduce cannabis-related arrests, remove cannabis as a justification for police interactions, and displace the illicit market by providing adults safe, regulated access.
Just last week, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus included legalization on its list of priorities for a special session set for August. The decriminalization law also creates a work group to study legalization in Virginia and make recommendations by November 30, 2020.
In other news, several improvements to Virginia’s limited medical cannabis program also go into effect today. Patients are now legally protected from prosecution (not just conviction) for possessing their medicine, and a greater variety of products and more dispensary locations will also be available to patients when products are available for purchase.
Please take a minute to reach out to your lawmakers in support of legalization, and be sure to share this news with your family and friends in Virginia!