Virginia must not criminalize “importing” small amounts of cannabis or increase other penalties — write lawmakers who are working to finalize the legislation today!
Overall, we are happy with the cannabis legalization bills that have passed the Virginia House and Senate. This week, lawmakers from both chambers are engaged in a “conference committee” that is working to resolve differences between the two bills.
Unfortunately, both bills still include one very bad provision that would criminalize bringing small amounts of cannabis into the Commonwealth from another jurisdiction. Both HB 2312 and SB 1406 would create a new criminal penalty, punishable by up to a year in jail, for entering Virginia with less than five pounds of cannabis. The bills do not currently include an exception for one ounce or less of cannabis.
“Importing” small amounts for personal use should not be a criminal offense, and it must be exempted from this new penalty. We have informed lawmakers about the problem, and we hope they will fix it during the reconciliation process, but they haven’t done so yet. Please write the members of the conference committee today and urge them to resolve this issue before they send a final bill to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam.
Additionally, SB 1406 would increase penalties for public consumption and underage possession from a $25 fine to a fine of up to $250 for a first offense, and it would prohibit adults from sharing cannabis with other adults. The House eliminated these penalty increases from HB 2312, and we are urging lawmakers in both chambers to ensure they are not included in the final bill.
For more information on the differences between HB 2312 and SB 1406, and to see what MPP has recommended to legislators, click here.
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