Virginia Lawmakers Request Public Opinion about Marijuana Decriminalization

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Under current Virginia legislation, a marijuana possession charge can lead to serious repercussions.  

Right now, possession of less than half an ounce of pot could land a person jail time for 30 days. Under a potential reform to that law, that charge would result in a fine instead.

Officials want public opinion on the idea of lightening the existing punishment.

Virginia lawmakers are requesting residents to provide input on marijuana reform until August 25. They can email in their opinion on how the state should proceed with marijuana reform to vsccinfo@vscc.virginia.gov

The urge for public recommendation stems from state Republican Majority Leader Thomas Norment, Jr. supporting a decriminalization study that will be presented to the general assembly.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a Virginia based group in support of legalization reform, reacted positively to the request for the public’s opinion. 

"When I was faced with a second round of cancer and potentially a third … I wanted to be sure that oncology patients in Virginia had the access to the same types of therapy that millions of Americans have,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, NORML Executive Director. 

"The time is now to be vocal about the issue: should it be a civil fine or a criminal penalty that will affect a person for the rest of their life,” said Jess Vegas, chapter director for NORML in Jefferson Area. 

Those on the other side of this issue argue that changes to current legislation could ease access for minors. 

The findings from the decriminalization study will be presented to the General Assembly on October 5.

Individuals can also reach out to local or state representatives to give feedback about the potential reform.