Earlier today, Gov. Ralph Northam signed SB 2 into law, which decriminalizes cannabis possession. Starting July 1, possession of up to an ounce will be punishable by a civil fine of up to $25 instead of a criminal penalty and potential jail time. This is the lowest fine of any decriminalization law!
Virginia now joins the 26 states and Washington, D.C. that have stopped jailing their residents for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Here are a few details about the new law:
- Reduces the penalty for possession of marijuana to a modest civil fine of up to $25 (The current penalty for a first offense is up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.)
- Creates a rebuttable presumption that a person who possesses no more than one ounce of marijuana possesses it for personal use (This will make it far less likely that a person will be convicted of possession with intent to distribute when the cannabis was actually for their personal use.)
- Reduces the use of stigmatizing records; prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose marijuana possession charges
- Creates a workgroup to study legalization
You can check out a full summary of the bill here.
This victory will save thousands of residents from life-altering criminal records for simple marijuana possession. A big thank you goes to our friends at Virginia NORML and everyone else working tirelessly to reform Virginia’s marijuana laws.
Be sure to share this exciting news with your family and friends in Virginia!