Virginia took a major step toward becoming the latest state to decriminalize marijuana on Monday, with a bill advancing out of one half of the Commonwealth’s general assembly.
The Democratic-controlled Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 972, a bill that seeks to effectively treat simple marijuana possession like a parking ticket. If it were to become law, HB 927 would ensure that anyone busted for simple possession of pot would only be subject to a civil penalty carrying a maximum fine of $50. Currently under Virginia law, a first time offense like that could land you in jail for up to 30 days, or with a fine of up to $500.
HB 972 would also ensure that such a civil penalty would not go on an individual’s criminal record (and that previous convictions would be sealed), while also eliminating driver’s licenses suspensions for adults. It would also treat hashish oil like marijuana.
The bill was introduced by Democratic Del. Charniele Herring, who celebrate the legislation making it out of the House on Monday.
“Since this issue disproportionately affects people of color, it is an important first step in combating the racial disparities in the Virginia criminal justice system,” Herring said