While marijuana law reform seems to be sweeping across the United States, very little has been heard on the subject from state legislators in Virginia, until now. Senator Adam Ebbin has changed that by proposing a bill to amend the current marijuana possession laws in the state. The bill, SB686 Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession, is expected to be addressed when the state legislature reconvenes in January 2015.
This bill, which is expected to be a tough sell for Senator Ebbin, will decriminalize possession of personal amounts of marijuana by reducing the charges, fines, and punishments associated. The current cost of the civil penalty associated with simple marijuana possession is $500. SB686 would reduce that price to $100. Currently, possession of cannabis could result in a sentence of up to thirty days in jail, but SB686 would remove jail time completely. This bill 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 personal cultivation would be decriminalized, as well.
For Senator Ebbin, this bill is not about making strides toward legalizing retail marijuana in the state, 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.”
CBS 6 out of Richmond, VA posted a poll for viewers on the news article about proposed bill, 686, asking, “Should Virginia lawmakers decriminalize marijuana?” Currently, according to the poll results, 93.41 percent of people have answered yes, supporting the bill to decriminalize marijuana possession. Only 6.59 percent of people polled have responded against the proposed amendment.
These views may not be aligned with the conservative views the bill will face in the Virginia state legislature, so it will be interesting to see how far this marijuana decriminalization bill makes it in January.
photo credit: arlnow