Lawmakers in Virginia voted on Sunday to decriminalize marijuana with the passage of a bill that would make possession of small amounts of pot a civil offense. The legislation now heads to the office of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to give his approval.
Under the measure, Senate Bill 2, possession of less than one ounce of cannabis would be considered a civil offense punishable by a fine of not more than $25. Under current Virginia law, possession of up to a half-ounce of marijuana is considered a crime that can be punished with up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
“This means close to 30,000 people a year will no longer be labeled as criminals and no longer will suffer the negative repercussions of a criminal conviction,” said Democratic Sen. Adam Ebbin, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.
Jenn Michelle Pedini, the development director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the executive director of the group’s Virginia affiliate, said in a press release that the legislature has finally reflected the will of the people.
“This long overdue victory comes after years of sustained effort