Governor Ralph Northam has signed Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 972, decriminalizing marijuana possession, according to a news release from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The new law takes effect July 1, 2020 and reduces penalties for offenses involving personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a $25 civil violation with no arrest and no criminal record.
The new law also seals the criminal records of past marijuana offenders from employers and school administrators, and defines substances previously considered hashish as marijuana.
“This victory comes after many years of sustained effort by Virginia NORML and its membership,” said NORML development director, Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the executive director of the state affiliate, Virginia NORML. And while we applaud Governor Northam, his administration and the legislature for taking this step, it’s critical that they work swiftly to legalize and regulate the responsible of cannabis by adults and begin undoing the damages prohibition has waged on tens of thousands of Virginians.”
The bipartisan, bicameral effort to amend the state’s marijuana possession penalties was led by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) and House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46). [Read more at Staunton News Leader]