Virginia and Marijuana: One Small Step in the Right Direction
If you follow the news, you cannot avoid this topic. Every other day, there is a mention of the “war on drugs” and whether or not we are still fighting it as a society. If it’s not that, it is something about the inconsistent enforcement of drug laws between the federal and state levels and from one state to another. If it’s neither of those things, then it’s another story of someone who has been arrested for growing or distributing or just having some kind of drug in his or her possession.
It can be exhausting. And confusing.
A Recap of Marijuana Laws in Virginia:
In October of last year, this site published a post on marijuana, looking at the various ways that people view it. Some people will always see marijuana as criminal and do not want the laws to change. Others wish it was available to more people on a medicinal basis, seeing its positive benefits for those suffering from cancer or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Still yet, some do not care about any of that; they just think it is harmless enough that it should be legal and available for recreational use.
Even though the majority of citizens in Virginia, according to various recent polls, take the recreational view and would like to see marijuana use become legal, it is still illegal. Simply possessing it may result in a misdemeanor that could land a person in jail. You may also lose your ability to drive.
According to one pro-marijuana blog, Virginia is the 8th strictest state in the nation when it comes to marijuana enforcement. That should not be surprising. This blog has discussed many ways in which Virginia’s laws are strict – restoration of felons’ rights, the financial threshold for grand larceny, etc. – so why should marijuana be any different?
Well, it probably should be different. That is why a recent development is surprising but encouraging to see.
The Latest Development on Virginia’s Marijuana Laws:
Earlier this month, multiple news outlets reported that the Virginia State Crime Commission agreed to conduct a study that would examine the effects of changing the legal punishment for marijuana. The idea is to see what it might look like for the legal penalties to be civil in nature rather than criminal.
Civil penalties mean that you no longer face a misdemeanor and potential jail time for possession. You would also not lose your driver’s license privileges either. Instead, you might just pay a fine.
Remember those polls that say a majority of citizens want marijuana to be recreationally available? They just might be reasonationg with our legislators. According to The News & Advance, “candidates running for governor this year in both parties have called for decriminalizing the drug.” Additionally, influential Republican Tommy Norment came out against the high cost of having so many people in jail for marijuana possession. Regardless of the political reasons behind it, this study is a step in the right direction.
Where Virginia Is Now with Marijuana:
To be clear, nothing yet has changed. Virginia is simply looking into making a change. Furthermore, the change being studied is not about legalizing marijuana; it is about lessening the penalties for possessing it. It is a small step but an important one nonetheless.
In the meantime, if you are facing any kind of drug offense – possession, distribution, etc. – you need a strong defense attorney who can help you during this time. Call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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