Virginia is kicking ass in the present day. Finally, the state is taking steps to dismantle its archaic, prohibitionist hashish legal guidelines. As of July 1, 2020, Virginians busted with as much as an oz. of weed will only have to pay a small fine, with no danger of jail time, drivers’ license suspension, or a everlasting legal file.
Back in April, Governor Ralph Northam signed two similar payments decriminalizing minor hashish possession in the commonwealth. Now, possession of as much as an oz. of weed will likely be thought of a civil violation relatively than a misdemeanor offense. Under the earlier regulation, anybody busted for weed would have the offense completely added to their legal file and could possibly be fined $500, jailed for 30 days, or have their drivers’ license suspended. Moving ahead, the one punishment for minor pot possession is a straightforward $25 nice.
“Virginia’s approach to cannabis hasn’t been working for far too long, needlessly saddling Virginians, especially Black Virginians and people of color, with criminal records,” stated State Attorney General Mark Herring, who’s working for governor subsequent yr, in a statement. “Those days are now behind us. With this historic legislation, we are making Virginia a more just, fair, equal and progressive place.”
“NORML is proud to have worked alongside Senator Ebbin and Delegate Herring, both longtime champions of evidence-based cannabis policy, to bring about these needed changes to Virginia law,” stated Virginia NORML govt director Jenn Michelle Pedini in a statement. “Virginians have long opposed the criminalization of personal marijuana possession, and the enactment of this legislation turns that public opinion into public policy.”
The decriminalization regulation additionally requires the state authorities to conduct an official examine on the viability of legalizing a taxed and controlled adult-use hashish market by November 30. Gov. Northam proposed an modification to the invoice that may have prolonged the deadline till subsequent yr because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however lawmakers rejected the amendment. Nov. 30 is now the exhausting deadline.
While hashish activists are stoked on the passage of this new regulation, they’re preserving their fingers crossed that it’s a step in direction of full legalization. “While we applaud Governor Northam, his administration, and the legislature for taking this important first step, it’s critical the legislature work swiftly to legalize and regulate the responsible use of cannabis by adults,” said Pedini.
“For too long, young people, poor people, and people of color have disproportionately been impacted by cannabis criminalization, and lawmakers must take immediate steps to right these past wrongs and to undo the damage that prohibition has waged upon hundreds of thousands of Virginians.”
In addition to hashish decriminalization, quite a few different progressive bills grew to become regulation in the present day. Several restrictions on gun possession, together with a regulation requiring background checks on all gun gross sales and one other prohibiting Virginians from shopping for multiple handgun a month, went into impact. Gov. Northam additionally signed payments to take away abortion restrictions, create new protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, improve voting entry, and to ultimately improve the minimal wage to $15.