Marijuana; decriminalization of simple possession. (HB1063)

Introduced By

Del. Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth) with support from co-patrons Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Dale City), Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church), and Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church)


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 jail sentence of 30 days, 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


01/10/2018Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18100370D
01/10/2018Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/23/2018Assigned Courts sub: Subcommittee #1
01/24/2018Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (7-Y 1-N)
02/15/2018Left in Courts of Justice


John Smith writes:

Fully support. Here is the problem, an adult with epilepsy gets arrested for simple possession of marijuana on their property even though doctors have told him it would help with treating his epilepsy. Doctors in Virginia will not put that in writing today but will say it. Marijuana has no where near the side effects of common epilepsy medication i.e. Keppra and Depakote. CBD oils have bad side effects like low blood pressure and severe dizziness.

So after getting arrested on his property for simple possession and showing the court a letter from his neurologist that states he has epilepsy. He gets convicted and sent to drug treatment and testing. Well he shows up positive for marijuana on a drug test and gets placed in jail for violation of VASAP and good behavior. While in jail he loses his job.

Tim Robinson writes:

Agree with John. Two polls in Virginia found that anywhere from 86-94% of Virginia voters support legalized marijuana. It is clear that support for this issue exists statewide, it is time that lawmakers listen to the will of the people. At a meeting on Tuesday evening the Norfolk City Council, Virginia’s second-largest city, is officially calling on state lawmakers to decriminalize marijuana.

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

The ACLU of VA supports full legalization of Marijuana, but decriminalization is a step in the right direction. Under this bill, possession would be reduced to a simple civil fine, thereby alleviating many of the problems plaguing enforcement of the criminal possession statute such as disproportionate enforcement in minority communities.

Tim Robinson writes:

We'll no surprise considering that alcoholic beverage companies and distributors give allot of campaign contributions to Virginia Politicians to help defeat marijuana decriminalization. Let's see according to Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah)Courts of Justice Committee received the following contributions:
$54,992 Va Beer Wholesalers Assn
$50,000 Va Wine Wholesalers Assn
$15,000 Republic National Distributing Co
$14,000 Breakthru Beverage Virginia
$12,000 Premium Distributors of Va LLC
$10,900 Anheuser-Busch

John Smith writes:

Virginia Politicians refuse the decriminalization of simple marijuana possession even though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Data shows the following:
Annual Cause of Death (based on 2015)
-Alcohol-Induced Deaths 33,171
-Alcoholic Liver Disease 21,028
-Deaths Involving Pharmaceutical Drugs 22,134
-Deaths Involving Pharmaceutical Opioids 16,651
-Deaths Involving Marijuana 0 (Zero)

Teresa writes:

VA allowed licensed medical doctors to prescribe to pain patients the most powerful opiates known. Yet when people became narcotic dependent, (which is what happens to anyone who takes narcotics for long enough) those same pain Drs cut those patients loose with absolutely no where to go for their narcotic dependence. Local drug clinics don’t take pain pts, dependent or not. This has been an absolute scourge on our society.

Yet, here’s a simple, effective, safer alternative to narcotics for pain pts & nobody will support it? If we’re going to criminalize something based upon safety, then it’s alcohol that should be banned. Nobody smokes a J & then goes home to beat their wife & kids.

Brandon Crum writes:

End Prohibition, It never works!!!