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When lawmakers from the Virginia Legislature reconvene after holiday break, a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession will be waiting to be introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin. The “Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession” bill, also known as SB 686, replaces the current, harsh, penalties with a a simple civil fee up to $100.

SB 686 even goes as far as to understand that personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants is not enough to assume the grower intends to illegally distribute, so should this pass, personal cultivation will also be decriminalized.

The introduction of this bill, for Senator Ebbin, is not about making strides toward legalizing retail marijuana in Virginia, but it is intended to reduce the potentially life-ruining repercussions experienced by people who otherwise would not be considered criminals. Ebbin told CBS 6,

“I think criminalizing marijuana, disrupting careers and families, does more harm than the drug itself does.”

The Marijuana Policy Project agrees with this point because no one should be denied housing our employment as a result of a non-violent marijuana possession arrest record. Current marijuana possession laws in Virginia dictate that a person can be put in jail for up to thirty days, fined up to $500, or both. In 2012 alone there were more than 20,000 arrests for marijuana possession. Passing a decriminalization bill would allow law enforcement to focus efforts elsewhere.

photo credit: arlnow

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