The General Assembly kicked off its 2020 legislative session this week, and there is a real possibility that Virginia could decriminalize marijuana possession this year. To turn this possibility into a reality, lawmakers need to hear this is a priority for their constituents. That's where you come in.
Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has filed a bill — SB 2 — that would decriminalize marijuana possession by making possession of one ounce or less punishable by a maximum civil fine of $50. Under current law, simple possession of marijuana carries up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. You can check out our one-pager on decriminalization in Virginia here.
Decriminalization has gained increasing support from both elected officials and Virginians. Just last week, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) put decriminalization at the top of his 2020 criminal justice agenda.
This move is long overdue. Virginia is currently lagging behind the 26 states that have stopped jailing their residents for marijuana possession.
Please email your lawmakers today and ask them to decriminalize cannabis in 2020. Then, share this message with your friends and family in Virginia and encourage them to do the same.
Yesterday, Gov. David Ige let a modest decriminalization bill — HB 1383 — become law without his signature. Effective January 11, 2020, possession of three grams or less of marijuana will be punishable by a $130 civil fine. The bill also provides for the expungement of criminal records for convictions of possession of three grams or less of marijuana.
Hawaii is now the 26th state to stop jailing residents for possessing modest amounts of marijuana. However, three grams is the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state. Unfortunately, with such a low possession limit, needless marijuana arrests will continue. A more sensible approach would be to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.
In other news, Gov. Ige has unfortunately vetoed a bill that would allow limited transport of medical cannabis between the islands. The bill — HB 290 — was approved by the legislature in May.
While the decriminalization law is an extremely timid step forward, there is still work to be done to improve Hawaii's marijuana laws. Contact your lawmakers today, then forward this message to your family and friends in Hawaii.
Yesterday, Gov. David Ige announced that he will allow a modest decriminalization bill, HB 1383, to become law. The bill will make possession of three grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $130 fine. Under current law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The bill will take effect on January 11, 2020.
This bill will save some Hawaiians from traumatic arrests, possible jail time, and life-altering criminal records. However, it's an extremely timid step forward. Three grams is the smallest possession limit of any decriminalization or legalization state. Unfortunately, with such a low possession limit and steep fine, lives will continue to be needlessly derailed. And, decriminalization does nothing to control the illicit market.
A more sensible approach would be to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. Eleven states — including every state on the West Coast — have chosen this approach. Hawaii is lagging behind.
By legalizing taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and older, Hawaii would dramatically reduce marijuana arrests, displace the illicit market, and ensure consumers have a safe, tested product.
Contact your lawmakers today! With your help, Hawaii can take a more sensible approach to marijuana
Recently, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring submitted an op-ed to the Daily Press urging the state to "decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, address past convictions and start moving toward legal and regulated adult-use." Shortly after, lawmakers from both parties, including Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R), also voiced support for decriminalization.
The 2019 legislative session adjourned on February 23. While both legalization and decriminalization bills were introduced this past session, those bills were defeated in committee. With increasing support from elected officials, the focus now shifts to 2020.
Virginia is lagging behind the rest of the country on marijuana policy. Twenty-five states and Washington, D.C. have stopped jailing their residents for possession of modest amounts of marijuana, and 11 of those states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for individuals over 21.
Polling has also shown that almost eight of 10 Virginia residents support replacing criminal convictions for simple marijuana possession with a fine, and 62 percent favor ending marijuana prohibition altogether.
It is past time Virginia reform its marijuana laws. Please contact your lawmakers today, and forward this message to your family and friends in Virginia.
Yesterday, the Hawaii House and Senate approved a bill to stop arresting and jailing Hawaiians for small amounts of marijuana. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
The bill would make possession of three grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $130 fine. Under current law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
While we are disappointed that the possession limit is low — three grams is the smallest amount of any decriminalization or legalization state — this legislation will still save Hawaiians from arrest, possible jail time, and a life-altering criminal record for possession of a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Currently, 24 states and D.C. have stopped jailing their residents for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Hawaii is lagging behind. Removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis is an important step towards sensible marijuana policies.
Contact Gov. Ige now and ask that he sign the decriminalization bill. Then, forward this message to your friends and family to Hawaii and encourage them to do the same.
After passing in a 5-2 vote in the House Jurisprudence Committee, HB 63 is scheduled for a vote in the Texas House of Representatives this Thursday. Please contact your lawmakers in support of marijuana decriminalization right now.
If HB 63 passes, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana would be punishable by a $250 fine for the first two offenses, and it would be considered a class C misdemeanor for subsequent offenses. Currently, possessing any amount of marijuana is punishable by jail time in Texas.
Given that the Texas Republican Party endorsed marijuana decriminalization and Gov. Gregg Abbott has expressed willingness to sign a bill that reduces penalties for possession, the environment has never been better for change in Texas.
So please, contact your lawmakers today and then forward this email to friends and family and ask they do the same. Together, we can reform marijuana laws in Texas.
On Tuesday, in a 12-5 vote, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), would reduce the possession penalty to a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100. It would also reduce the penalty for possessing up to six plants from a felony to a misdemeanor, and it would reduce the maximum penalties for other marijuana offenses.
Vermont decriminalized marijuana possession in 2013, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in New England that maintains a criminal penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana. This makes no sense, especially in a state known as the “Live Free or Die” state.
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Tuesday, the Hawaii Senate unanimously voted to approve a decriminalization bill, sending it to the House of Representatives. S.B. 472, SD 1, would replace Hawaii’s current criminal penalties — including possible jail time — for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a civil fine of $1,000. The bill originally called for a fine of $100, but it was amended up in committee.
If you live in Hawaii, please email your representative and ask that she or he work with marijuana policy advocates to bring the fine back down to a more reasonable level and craft a bill that will be agreeable to all parties.
While the Senate was passing S.B. 472, SD 1, the House was also approving legislation to improve Hawaii’s marijuana policies. The House passed H.B. 667 (allowing out-of-state patients and making other improvements) and H.B. 668 (transferring the medical marijuana program from the public safety department to the health department). The two bills now move to the Senate for committee hearings.