Prosecutors don’t expect big impact from Virginia’s new marijuana crimes

Two new criminal charges for marijuana possession are now on the books in Virginia.
Two new criminal charges for marijuana possession are now on the books in Virginia.(WTOK)
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 4:31 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Two new criminal charges for marijuana possession are now on the books in Virginia.

Being caught in public with 4 ounces of marijuana will now result in a class 3 misdemeanor charge and up to a $500 fine. Subsequent offenses would be punishable with six months in jail and up to $1,000 fine. Previously, there was only $25 civil penalty for being caught with less than a pound of marijuana.

“Marijuana prosecutions and investigations are not a priority for the Charlottesville Police Department, nor are they for this office,” Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania said. “We’re focused on public safety and so if it impacts that we’ll pay more attention to it, but I don’t expect it to have much of an impact in Charlottesville.”

Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Hingeley agrees. He says he doesn’t expect the law change will result in much more criminal prosecution in the community.

“Four ounces is where the threshold this new criminal penalty comes into effect, 4 ounces is a lot of marijuana to have on your person in public,” Hingeley said. “Remember you can have as much as you want in your residence in private.”

The charges were included as part of the budget Governor Glenn Youngkin recently signed.

Prosecutors stress that the laws only apply to being in public, and that driving while under the influence of marijuana is still a crime.

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