Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession, penalty. (SB686)

Introduced By

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) with support from co-patron Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession. Decriminalizes marijuana possession and changes the current $500 criminal fine for simple marijuana possession to a maximum $100 civil penalty payable to the Literary Fund and eliminates the 30-day jail sentence. The bill reduces the criminal penalties for distribution and possession with intent to distribute etc. of marijuana. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that a person who grows no more than six marijuana plants grows marijuana for personal use and not for distribution and provides that the suspended sentence/substance abuse screening provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a minor. Marijuana is removed from a statute making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to distribute or display advertisements, etc., for instruments used for marijuana and from the common nuisance statute. The distribution of paraphernalia statute will apply only to an adult who distributes to a minor at least three years his junior. The bill also limits forfeiture of property from sale or distribution of marijuana to quantities of more than one pound; currently there is no minimum amount. The penalty for possession of marijuana by a prisoner is reduced from a Class 5 felony to a Class 6 felony. Amends § 16.1-260, § 18.2-248.1, § 18.2-250.1, § 18.2-251, § 18.2-252, § 18.2-255.1, § 18.2-258, § 18.2-259.1, § 18.2-265.3, § 18.2-287.2, § 18.2-308.1:5, § 18.2-460, § 19.2-386.22, § 46.2-390.1, § 53.1-203, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
10/31/2014Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/15 15100820D
10/31/2014Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/28/2015Committee substitute printed to Web only 15104017D-S1
01/28/2015Passed by indefinitely in Courts of Justice (9-Y 5-N) (see vote tally)

Comments

S Coffield writes:

Legalize, decriminalize. Let us take care of our own medical. The pharmaceutical companies know marijuana helps and cures. They don't want this as they will start loosing money. We ALL know the pharmaceutical companies are in the governments back pocket. Its getting to where doctor's are afraid to give pain meds as the DEA/FBI are watching! Let us, the people take care if ourselves and stop the madness

S Johnson writes:

This will be progressive in terms of va state law! I approve of the passing of this bill

Neal Frankel writes:

People have used marijuana for thousands of years for medicinal and recreational purposes and it became an illegal substance at the beginning of the 20th century, fairly recent history. The majority of Americans now believe marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed similar to how we treat alcohol consumption.

"Virginia State Police figures show that in 2013, there were more than 24,000 marijuana arrests in the state."

Marijuana prohibition imposes a significant economic burden on our State and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.

ACLU of Virginia writes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports efforts to decriminalize marijuana for adults. Marijuana prohibition imposes arbitrary, often harsh penalties for private conduct for which no criminal penalty is appropriate and imposes all of the hardships of an arrest, arrest record, and often a prison term on otherwise law-abiding people. In addition, the enforcement of marijuana prohibition diverts law enforcement money and manpower from the enforcement of laws against serious crimes. Finally, African Americans are disproportionately targeted. While African Americans and whites use marijuana at roughly the safe rate, African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in the Commonwealth.

ACLU-VA Criminal Justice writes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports efforts to decriminalize marijuana for adults. Marijuana prohibition imposes arbitrary, often harsh penalties for private conduct for which no criminal penalty is appropriate and imposes all of the hardships of an arrest, arrest record, and often a prison term on otherwise law-abiding people. In addition, the enforcement of marijuana prohibition diverts law enforcement money and manpower from the enforcement of laws against serious crimes. Finally, African Americans are disproportionately targeted. While African Americans and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rate, African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in the Commonwealth.

ACLU-VA Legislative Agenda, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports efforts to decriminalize marijuana for adults. Marijuana prohibition imposes arbitrary, often harsh penalties for private conduct for which no criminal penalty is appropriate and imposes all of the hardships of an arrest, arrest record, and often a prison term on otherwise law-abiding people. In addition, the enforcement of marijuana prohibition diverts law enforcement money and manpower from the enforcement of laws against serious crimes. Finally, African Americans are disproportionately targeted. While African Americans and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rate, African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in the Commonwealth.

M. Stewart writes:

As a Law Enforcement Against Prohibition advocate I approve of the direction this bill intends to step.

Virginia Marijuana Legalization Project writes:

The Virginia Marijuana Legalization Project would like to encourage any Virginia voters in favor of SB 686 to sign our petition in support at https://www.change.org/p/william-m-stanley-jr-recommend-sb-686-decriminalization-of-simple-marijuana-possession-to-the-full-virginia-general-assembly-senate-floor.

We currently have over 2300 supporters and are hoping to reach 2500 before the end of the week. We will be travelling to Richmond on Friday the 16th as part of VA NORML's Lobby Day 2015 (http://vanorml.org/Lobby-Day-2015) to speak with our legislators to let them know of the direction that we would like Virginia to move toward.

Please add your name to the petition, and consider joining us this Friday in Richmond! If you would like more information, please visit our web site at http://vmlp.org, or find us on Twitter @VMLPorg or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/virginiaLegalization.

Thank you for your support!

ACLU-VA Criminal Justice, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports efforts to decriminalize marijuana for adults. Marijuana prohibition imposes arbitrary, often harsh penalties for private conduct for which no criminal penalty is appropriate and imposes all of the hardships of an arrest, arrest record, and often a prison term on otherwise law-abiding people. In addition, the enforcement of marijuana prohibition diverts law enforcement money and manpower from the enforcement of laws against serious crimes. Finally, African Americans are disproportionately targeted. While African Americans and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rate, African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in the Commonwealth.

Jim writes:

Purely from a fiscal point of view, decriminalization makes sense.

http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2015/jan/11/james-aubin/advocate-says-colorado-received-60-million-taxes-a/

I'd be curious to know how many people are currently incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses as well.

gee vill writes:

i dont see how all these states make this legal when it comes to filling out paper work for buying a gun did the feds change the requirements for gun purchase or are people lieing when buying a gun and what happens when caught and what about employment if legal can you be fired for having a positive drug test with thc because it stays in system for so long theres no way to prove its done in home and not during work hours

Waldo Jaquith writes:

what about employment if legal can you be fired for having a positive drug test with thc because it stays in system for so long theres no way to prove its done in home and not during work hours

Many workplaces would also fire you for showing up to work with alcohol in your system, but there's no way to prove that you were drinking at home and not during work hours. There is no new or complicated problem being presented here.

Right Way Forward Virginia, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Right Way Forward Virginia, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, libertarian grassroots advocacy organization, supports this bill. Eight percent of all arrests in Virginia in 2013 were marijuana-related. Marijuana prohibition wastes police resources that could be better spent keeping Virginians safe from violent crimes. Even though marijuana use is roughly equal across races, African-Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites in Virginia. This disparity contributes to racial inequality and the cycle of poverty.

Mark writes:

What if alcohol and marijuana switched positions. There would not be one positive FACT about alcohol. Now we have these old men grown up on a LAUGHABLE scheme "Reefer Madness" to get rid of marijuana due to a large threat against markets that would shrink if marijuana were legal. We have a plant that literally has medical value and it's still illegal, I give up on our politicians if they don't do the least by decriminalizing this. Let's see what it's about folks, the money or what's right.

marshamaines writes:

One must always ask, "in whose best interests" does any legislation Serve? And then connect the dots of the money trail. I support withdrawal of EACH and EVERY man made state statute that operates to FUND or GRANT special rights, immunities, and privileges for one private entity over another.

Rose writes:

It's so sad that the vast majority of these comments and the votes here are in support of this bill, but it will never pass because our lawmakers make money from the criminalization of marijuana and other drugs. (So many of them are prosecutors, former law enforcement, etc. whose job it is to put people away. Still others may be lobbied heavily by the private prison industrial complex. Harsher penalties = fatter wallets for these people.)

Colt R. writes:

This is something that should have came up way before now. It makes no sense at all how a plant that has grown on this Earth way before modern civilization, could be illegal in the first place. Not only is it less harmless than over the counter drugs or alcohol but it has tons of proven health benefits.Putting people in jail & the court system, pretty much for the same thing as drinking a few beers, it' so hypocritical. It's about time someone gets some sense & stops wasting their energy and resources on something so stupid.

robert legge writes:

Another win for the jail industrial complex which includes courts, police, jails, lawyers, drug rehab, drug testing. Pretty strong lobby I guess. Someday they will be embarrassed by this. No time soon in VA.

Allen writes:

I don't want to sound like a idiot, why does this site say this bill passed in committie & other sites say that it didn't? On here it says 9 voted yes and 5 voted no & it passed, while other news sources say it was crushed with 9 voting no & 5 yes. Im missing something here big time.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

I don't want to sound like a idiot, why does this site say this bill passed in committie & other sites say that it didn't?

Your confusion is understandable! The legislature uses confusing language, and this is a good instance of it. This page says that the bill was "passed by indefinitely in Courts of Justice," meaning that the courts committee has decided to "pass by" the bill (skip it) "indefinitely" (for no defined period but, in practice, forever). To "pass by" a bill is a totally different thing to "pass" a bill—in fact, they're opposites. That "by" makes a big difference!

Allen writes:

Thanks for the break down Waldo. I was forsure that it failed because so many main stream sources, the way this site has it written was confusing the crap out of me though. It's really a shame, even though I didn't have high hopes to begin with. Va has always been and always will be one of the worst states for unfair laws. I agree with full on legalization for the whole U.S. But if this would have passed and I would have never seen it 100% legal, I wouldn' have complained. I'd say we will all be dead and long gone before this ever happens in Va.

marsha maines writes:

Wanna know why Courts of Justice Committee passed it by?
Look who OWNS the Senators who voted to pass it by.
Senator Tom Garrett (R-Lynchburg)
Virginia Trial Lawyers, PAC Attorneys at Law Richmond $1,000
Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen Law Firm Richmond $1,000
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance Provider OH $1,000
National College Education Roanoke $750
American Electric Power Power Generation Richmond $500
Abbott Laboratories Employee PAC Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Products Abbott Park $500
Management Services Corporation, DCRJ Rental Escrow Acct. Real Estate Investment and Management Charlottesville $500
Virginia Society of Anesthesiologists, PAC Medical Providers Richmond $500
Reed Smith LLP, PAC Law Firm Richmond $500
Virginia Optometric Association Medical Service Richmond $500

Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Mechanicsville)
no records

Senator Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg)
Altria Client Services Manufacturing Richmond $10,000
Verizon Good Government Club of Virginia Telecommunications Richmond $7,678
Medical Society of Virginia Health Care Richmond $7,500
Dominion PAC Energy Utility Richmond $7,500
VA BankPAC Bankers Glen Allen $6,500
POMOCO Auto Dealer Newport News $5,100
VA Cable Telecommunications Association Cable Telecommunications Richmond $5,000
Community Loans of America, Inc. Financial Services GA $5,000
G. Gilmer Minor President Richmond $5,000
Alpha Natural Resources Services LLC Natural Resources Abingdon $5,000

Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg)
none listed

Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania)
Dan Brouillette Executive TX $10,000
Lee Fox Retired Spotsylvania $5,000
Orrick Johnson Realtor Fredericksburg $5,000
David Amstutz Retired Spotsylvania $5,000
SH Development Company Inc Real Estate Fredericksburg $5,000
John Nau CEO TX $5,000
The Printing Press Printing Harrisonburg $2,000
Keystone Automotive Industries Automotive TX $1,500
WRJ Holdings LLC Real Estate Fredericksburg $1,500
Duane Adams Insurance Louisa $1,100

Senator Bill Stanley (R-Moneta)
none listed

Senator Richard Stuart (R-Westmoreland)
The Virginia Coal Association PAC Richmond $1,000
Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Political Action Committee PAC Richmond $1,000
Community Loans of America, Inc. Lending Company GA $1,000
Hunton & Williams Law Firm Richmond $1,000
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare OH $1,000
John S. Cheadle Real Estate Broker/Appraiser King George $500
Titlemax Lending Company GA $500
Vandeventer Black, LLP Law Firm Norfolk $500
Reed Smith, LLP PAC Richmond $500
Virginia Hospital Association Political Action Committee PAC Richmond $500

Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester)
Amerigroup Corporation Healthcare Insurance Virginia Beach $1,000
Verizon Good Government Club of Virginia 527 Political Organization Richmond $500
Virginia Optometric Association N/A Richmond $500
Kanopi Health, Inc. Telemedicine systems MD $500
Huntington Ingalls Industries Shipbuilding Newport News $500
Virginia Bank PAC PAC Glen Allen $500
Virginia Sheriff's Assocation PAC PAC Richmond $300
Virginia State Police Association, Inc. PAC PAC Richmond $300
Law Office of Steven W. Pearson, PC Law Firm Richmond $300
Christian & Barton, LLP Law Firm Richmond $300