Another Bill Is Proposed In VA To Decriminalize Marijuana

Heather Curtis

WASHINGTON (WMAL) – Bills to decriminalize marijuana in Virginia haven’t gotten anywhere in the past, but Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) is optimistic his new bill will pass. The bill would make possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by a civil penalty rather than a misdemeanor carrying a maximum of 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Ebbin said part of the problem is the people convicted of marijuana possession are often on the bottom rung of the economic ladder and minorities.

Even though past decriminalization bills didn’t pass, Ebbin is optimistic this one will pass. Ebbin said a study by the Virginia State Crime Commission that came out in January of 2018 educated members of the courts committee in both chambers about the topic. It said 45.5 percent of the people arrested for first time marijuana possession in 2016 were black according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The study also found first time offenders are usually not sentenced to jail time.

Ebbin said another reason he is optimistic this go around is because last year another bill was being considered that would have increased fines.

Marijuana is decriminalized in 21 states and the District of Columbia according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Ebbin expects the legislature to look at statistics from those states before making a decision.

“The further along these other states are, the easier it is to show my colleagues that the sky is not falling,” Ebbin said.

He added he has not yet spoken to his colleagues on the other side of the aisle but plans to do so.

Ebbin believes the legislature will take up the bill during the next general assembly session in January.

Copyright 2018 by All Rights Reserved. (Photo: Pixabay)

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