Virginia is very close to becoming the 27th state to decriminalize marijuana!
This week, both chambers of the General Assembly passed similar decriminalization bills. Now, the legislature will have to reconcile the differences in the two bills before a final bill heads to Gov. Ralph Northam's desk. Gov. Northam — who has made decriminalization a top priority in 2020 — is likely to sign the bill into law.
The Senate decriminalization bill, SB 2, cleared the Senate yesterday (27-13). The bill would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana punishable by a $50 civil fine and increase the threshold for charges for sales and possession with intent to distribute from half an ounce to one ounce.
Meanwhile, the House version, which was approved by the House (64-34), would make simple possession a civil penalty punishable by a $25 fine and allow criminal records for marijuana possession to be sealed.
The move to decriminalize marijuana in Virginia is long overdue. Under current law, marijuana possession is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.
Help seal the fate of decriminalization in 2020 by contacting your lawmakers today. Then, share this message with your friends and family in Virginia and encourage them to do the same.
A new poll jointly commissioned by MPP and the ACLU of Maryland shows that a majority of Marylanders support legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol! If you live in Maryland, please let your legislators know that you are among the 53% of voters who believe adults should be allowed to use a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.
In 2014, representatives in Annapolis will be considering several bills that propose a more sensible approach to marijuana policies. Voters are fully behind all of these reforms. In addition to showing majority support for making marijuana legal, our poll also found that 68% of Marylanders support a civil penalty for the simple possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. This is up 11 percentage points since our poll just two years ago!
Replacing jail time with a fine — or no penalty — would free up police, prosecutor, and court resources to focus on serious crimes. In 2011, there were 24,298 arrests in Maryland for marijuana, 90% of which were for mere possession! Legislators need to know what their constituents know – that is time to stop arresting adults for the possession of a substance that about half of all Americans have used.