Any hope of Virginia decriminalizing cannabis was shot down Wednesday. The House subcommittee voted against a bill that would have decriminalized possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana.
Bill That Would Decriminalize Cannabis in Virginia Shot Down 7-1
Currently, Virginia law states that people caught with a half-ounce or less of cannabis can face fines up to $500 and 30 days in jail. Get caught again and the fine spikes up to $2,500 and up to a year behind bars. First-time offenders may be placed on probation instead of going to jail…if, that is, they agree to undergo and pay for a series of drug tests during probation and enroll in a drug treatment program.
There are several people in Virginia that want to see this changed. Portsmouth Del. Steve Heretick is one of them. He believes that putting marijuana offenders behind bars needs to end, referring to the several states across the nation that are either legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis.
“We’ve seen evolved societal norms,” Heretick said. “More (people) are accepting of marijuana. This is a bill whose time has come.”
Apparently, not everyone in the state feels the same. The bill was rejected 7-1 by members of the subcommittee.
Will Virginia Ever See Cannabis Legalizes…Or At Least Decriminalized?
The Substance Abuse Free Environments is a group in favor of preventing cannabis use. They said that removing the fines associated with marijuana possession in Virginia would simply encourage it.
There were others that argued it would increase car crash rates, mentioning that in marijuana-legal states as many as one in eight drivers might be under the influence of marijuana behind the wheel.
Never mind the study published in the American Journal of Public Health that says marijuana legalization does not lead to more car crashes or fatal road collisions. According to the authors of this 2017 study, “We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization.”
While there are currently several bills in Virginia regarding cannabis, movement forward seems to be slow. Those who want to steer clear of the heavy fines inflicted in the state of Virginia can always take a quick drive over to our nations Capitol, where possessing weed is completely legit.