Marijuana; decriminalization of simple possession. (HB1074)

Introduced By

Del. Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth) with support from co-patrons Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church), Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), and Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Springfield)

Progress

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

Description

Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession. Decriminalizes marijuana possession and provides a civil penalty of no more than $250 for a first violation and $1,000 for a second or subsequent violation. Under current law, there is a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum 30-day jail sentence for a first offense, and subsequent offenses are a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that a person who possesses no more than one-half ounce of marijuana possesses it for personal use and provides that the suspended sentence/substance abuse screening provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a minor. Amends § 16.1-260, § 18.2-248.1, § 18.2-250.1, § 18.2-251, § 18.2-252, § 18.2-259.1, § 18.2-287.2, § 18.2-308.1:5, § 18.2-460, § 19.2-386.22, § 46.2-390.1, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
01/13/2016Committee
01/13/2016Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/16 16102160D
01/13/2016Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/20/2016Assigned to sub: Criminal Law
01/20/2016Assigned App. sub: Criminal Law
01/20/2016Assigned Courts sub: Criminal Law
01/25/2016Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
02/16/2016Left in Courts of Justice

Comments

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this bill. Under current law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. A 2013 ACLU report showed that in 2010, African Americans were 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites in Virginia, despite similar rates of marijuana use. A 2015 Drug Policy Alliance report showed that arrests for marijuana possession and the associated racial disparities have increased in Virginia since 2010. The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana and help end the Commonwealth's failed, misguided war on a plant.

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

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports this bill. Under current law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. A 2013 ACLU report showed that in 2010, African Americans were 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites in Virginia, despite similar rates of marijuana use. A 2015 Drug Policy Alliance report showed that arrests for marijuana possession and the associated racial disparities have increased in Virginia since 2010. The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana and help end the Commonwealth's failed, misguided war on a plant.

Melanie Crovo writes:

It is time to stop arresting citizens for possession of a plant that is legal in several states. Treating possession of marijuana as a crime leads to loss of driver's license which can lead to job loss. This type of conviction on a person's record leads to difficulty obtaining employment. Parents risk losing custody of their children. Students may lose college housing and scholarships. How does this improve society? Marijuana possession is a victimless "crime". Marijuana is safer than alcohol Stop treating it as a criminal offense.
Legalize it, tax it and regulate it. Grow the economy. This bill is a step in the right direction.