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Marijuana legislation is an important and rapidly changing subject when it comes to criminal law, which is something FIDE law specializes in. It’s important to stay up to date on the marijuana laws of each state, and just recently, the state of Virginia has decided to take a step toward decriminalizing marijuana for personal possession.

Under current Virginian law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a criminal record, and even potential loss of driving privileges.

This law is set to change as of July 1st, 2020. On that date, Virginia will join twenty-six states and the District of Columbia in either legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana possession. A bill to amend the state’s marijuana possession penalties was recently led by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) and House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46) and subsequently signed by Governor Ralph Northam. The bill will decriminalize marijuana possession in all of Virginia. It will reduce the criminal penalties of possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a maximum punishment of a $25 fine, including no arrest or criminal record.

As House Majority Leader Herring supported the bill, she said, “[This] is an important step in mitigating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. While marijuana arrests across the nation have decreased, arrests in Virginia have increased. This bill will not eliminate the racial disparities surrounding marijuana, but it will prevent low-level offenders from receiving jail time for simple possession while we move toward legalization in coming years with a framework that addresses both public safety and equity in an emerging market.”

The bill will have sweeping implications for the residents of Virginia, as, according to data from the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, more than 15,000 Virginians were convicted for a first or second marijuana possession offense from July 2018 to June 2019.

The new law will seal the criminal record of prior minor marijuana offenders from employers and school officials, along with reclassifying substances formerly classified as hashish as marijuana.

This newsletter is courtesy of FIDE Law to ensure that our clients stay informed about the new marijuana decriminalization laws that will soon take effect in Virginia.

Are you looking for legal help regarding the new Virginia marijuana laws? We can help you with that! Additionally, we can also assist you with family law, immigration law, criminal law, and debt, employment & estate planning. Call us today at (540) 371-4500!

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