Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession. (SB908)

Introduced By

Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


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, a first offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum 30-day jail sentence, 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 existing suspended sentence and substance abuse screening provisions apply only to criminal violations or to civil violations by a minor. The bill decreases the penalty for distribution or possession with intent to sell more than one-half but not more than five pounds of marijuana from a Class 5 felony to a Class 6 felony. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


12/27/2016Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/17 17102423D
12/27/2016Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/23/2017Passed by indefinitely in Courts of Justice with letter (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: HB1906.


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

The ACLU of Virginia supports legislation that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana. Previous attempts at decriminalization have not gained traction, but this past year saw advocacy at the local level and the publication of major research papers on the impact of marijuana enforcement that helped raise awareness of the argument for decriminalization. Decriminalization would establish a civil fine rather than criminal punishment for simple possession. Under current law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, as well as a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension. A second offense is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. A 2014 ACLU report showed that in 2010, African-Americans were 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession and the associated racial disparities have increased in Virginia since 2010. A 2016 ACLU report estimated Virginia spends $67 million annual enforcing marijuana laws. House Majority Leader Tommy Norment has said the issue should be studied by the State Crime Commission, of which he is a member. While we would like to see the legalization of marijuana, a good first step is to decriminalize possession and put wasted criminal justice resources to better use.

Joe 420 writes:

Yeah uhhh, please legalize, I want to hit the bangalang in piece


Gavin McGavin writes:

Goverment involvement is the rite of the people


Robert Combs writes:

I'd rather have cops writing tickets for an essentially harmless substance and be able to focus more time on arresting rapists and murderers than arresting personal users.

Eva King writes:

I support decriminalizing marijuana. Our prisons are bursting with non-violent drug offenders, and arrests are far more likely imposed on African-Americans. This is not necessary for public safety, maintains racial disparities, and wastes criminal justice resources.

420 GodVaper writes:

plsssssssssss get this bill to the governero, i need me the weeeeeeeeeeeeeeedddddddddddd!
if i dont get the weeeeeeeeeeeeeedddddddddd i will protest the virginia forevurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr