Lawmakers in Virginia have passed two bills that prohibit law enforcement officers from conducting warrantless searches based solely on the odor of marijuana. The measures, Senate Bill 5029 and House Bill 5058, have been approved by both legislative bodies and await the signature of Democratic. Gov. Ralph Northam to become law.
Earlier this year, Virginia decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana by limiting penalties to a civil fine of $25. Jenn Michelle Pedini, the development director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the executive director of the group’s Virginia branch, said in a release on Monday that the two bills continue the state’s reform efforts, but more still needs to be done.
“While this will certainly decrease non-essential interactions between law enforcement and otherwise law-abiding Virginians, it is only by legalizing the responsible use of cannabis by adults that the Commonwealth can end its failed experiment with prohibition and begin repairing the decades of damage,” Pedini said.
According to the text of the bills, “no law-enforcement officer may lawfully search or seize any person, place, or thing solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana and no evidence discovered or obtained as