A decriminalization policy for marijuana is officially in practice in Virginia since Wednesday, July 1.
A month ago, Govt. Ralph Northam (D) signed a bill. According to this, any person who acquires up to one ounce of cannabis would be imposed a $25 fine. However, there would be no ultimatum of imprisonment and no criminal record. In addition to this, the commonwealth has become the 27th state to legislate a change in the policy.
Previously, the legislators approved the bill in March. But, the governor suggested a few emendations in it and therefore sent the bill back to the Senate and House of Delegates for analysis.
They approved fifteen of the Northam’s emendations. However, they still rejected two of them. Among those two, one suggested to detain a required analysis into the influence of broader cannabis legalization.
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A few years back in 2017, Northam made a campaign promise. Hence, the passing of this legislation accomplishes his campaign promise. Being a governor, he has frequently emphasized on the need for reform, even in his State of the Commonwealth address.
According to previous laws in Virginia, imposition of fines of utmost $500 on people with even a simple cannabis possession was natural. Moreover, they were imprisoned for up to 30 days along with a criminal record.
Importance Of The Bill In Virginia
The citizens of Virginia have been running counter against the criminalization of personal marijuana possession. Hence, the passing of this legislation changes this public opinion into public policy as explained by Jenn Michelle Pedini.
Now, twenty-seven states have passed a law to decriminalize cannabis. Among them, decriminalization bill of Virginia is the strongest. Olivia Naugle stated in a press release that this law will halt the Virginians from being criminalized for possessing a simple cannabis. This will further prevent their lives from becoming disordered and unsettled.
State Attorney General Mark Herring also admired this reform. The citizens were not able to have access to cannabis for such a long time. Moreover, they were unnecessarily charged with criminal records especially Black Virginians and the people of color. However, those days are now left far behind.
He further stated in a press release that with this momentous legislation, they will bring equality and fairness in Virginia. Hence, it will emerge as a just and progressive region.
However, Herring who is currently running to replace the term-limited governor in 2021 desires that the state should go even further. According to him, “While decriminalization is an important first step on Virginia’s path, we cannot stop until we have full legalization in the Commonwealth.”
The proponents also emphasized that further reforms are essential. Pedini stated that it’s important that the parliament work rapidly to legalize and manage the reasonable and sane use of cannabis by the adults.
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There were unreasonable effects of cannabis criminalization on poor people, young generation and people of color for such a long time. In order to make up for these past wrong doings and further to compensate the damage that banning has executed on hundreds of thousands of Virginians, the legislators must take immediate measures.
Steve Hawkins, executive director of MPP explained that Virginia Legislative Black Caucus has now recognized the significance of full legalization. “While decriminalization is long overdue, legalization is necessary to dramatically reduce police-civilian interactions and remove the pretext for countless police stops.
As a result, the legislators must also continue to work efficiently towards a broader cannabis reform policy.