Controlled substances; reduces penalties for possession. (HB612)

Introduced By

Del. Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Possession of controlled substances; penalties. Reduces the penalty for possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance from a Class 5 felony to a Class 1 misdemeanor and the penalty for possession of a Schedule IV or V controlled substance from a Class 2 misdemeanor and a Class 3 misdemeanor, respectively, to a Class 4 misdemeanor. Consequently, the bill removes felony violations of possession of a controlled substance committed on or after July 1, 2022, from the definition of barrier crime related to criminal history checks for eligibility for various types of employment, to volunteer or provide certain services, or to establish or operate certain types of regulated businesses. The bill also provides that, for the purposes of the offense of possession of controlled substances, the term "controlled substance" does not include mere residue of any drug, substance, or immediate precursor in Schedules I through VI that is not a usable quantity or a countable dosage unit. The bill also limits the previous convictions that make a person ineligible for disposition under the first offender statute to a previous conviction for possession of a controlled substance or manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance. Under current law, a previous conviction for any drug-related criminal offense or for an offense under any statute of the United States or of any state relating to narcotic drugs, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drugs makes a person ineligible for such disposition. The bill also amends the required conditions of probation under the first offender statute. The bill changes the penalty for an attempt to commit a felony drug offense from imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 10 years to a Class 6 felony and removes the felony offenses for a prisoner to secrete or have in his possession any chemical compound that he has not lawfully received, any Schedule III controlled substance, or marijuana. The bill makes secreting or possessing a controlled substance or marijuana by a prisoner punishable the same as possession of such controlled substances or marijuana by a person who is not in prison. The bill contains technical amendments. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/11/2022Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/12/22 22104205D
01/11/2022Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/20/2022Assigned Courts sub: Subcommittee #1
01/21/2022Subcommittee recommends laying on the table (6-Y 2-N)
02/15/2022Left in Courts of Justice


Robert Legge writes:

The theory is that people will be so scared of a felony record that they won't possess Schedule I or II drugs. That's simply false. People are motivated by the likelihood of being busted whether felony or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor still can carry a 1-year sentence. Neither will make much difference. People simply discount the possibility of being caught. Most don't get caught. VA needs to get with other progressive states that have defelonized drug possession- like Oklahoma, Utah, and Alaska.

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