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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > State Crime Commission To Study Decriminalization of Marijuana

State Crime Commission To Study Decriminalization of Marijuana


The Virginia State Crime Commission, which is made up of citizens and state lawmakers, will soon begin a study looking at the pros and cons of decriminalizing marijuana, and will later give its report to the General Assembly. This report could be the beginning process of a 2018 bill that would present changes to the current laws regarding marijuana, as reported by The Virginian Pilot. Multiple attempts in the past to decriminalize the Schedule I drug have failed. Schedule I substances are defined as having no accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, the most dangerous types of drugs, and have potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. The study comes on the heels of the latest push to decriminalize simple marijuana possession. Bills 1269 and 908 failed to pass through the senate earlier this year.

Reactions to Commission Study Mostly Positive

As part of the study, the Commission will look into possible negative effects of decriminalization of marijuana in other states, such as Oregon, Washington, and Colorado where marijuana has been legalized. These issues include impaired driving and whether marijuana is considered a gateway drug by current research. News of the study has spurred reactions across the state from varying lawmakers. According to David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke County),”We’re seeing both Democrats and Republicans saying it’s time now to re-look at this. . . now that we have better science, better studies that we can look at and judge it in a more fair and reasonable way,” as reported by WDBJ7 News. According to Delegate Greg Habeeb (R-Salem), “I think it’s good. We’ll have the state crime commission look at it. They’ll come forward with some recommendations hopefully and then we’ll go from there.”

Decriminalization is Not Full Legalization

The Commission’s study will look into decriminalization, not legalization, of marijuana. What this means is that even if laws are eventually passed in the years to come that decriminalize marijuana, it would remain illegal. However, instead of a criminal record and time behind bars, violators would be fined. Additionally, the study is looking at the possibility of decriminalizing simple possession, which is already only a misdemeanor. Simple possession is defined as having a half ounce or less of marijuana, and is punishable only by a maximum of 30 days in jail and a fine of $500 (a Class B misdemeanor). Possessing larger amounts or dealing marijuana would remain illegal and result in a criminal record and possibly jail or prison time. Many are eager for 2018 and what it may bring in terms of expanding access to medical marijuana. Currently, only those who suffer from severe epilepsy are allowed to use marijuana oils. Cancer patients and those who suffer from chronic pain are not legally allowed to use marijuana for pain and nausea management.

Call a Leesburg Attorney Today

While simple marijuana possession may not be a crime in the future, in the meantime it is a Class B misdemeanor. Larger amounts constitute felony charges. If you have been charged with a drug crime of any type, call the Leesburg criminal defense lawyers of Simms Showers, LLP today.




Disclaimer: This legal alert is provided for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice particular to your situation. No recipients of this memo should act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of this memorandum without seeking professional legal counsel. Simms Showers LLP expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based solely on the content of this memorandum. Please contact Caleb Kershner or Ben Mann at cak@simmsshowerslaw.com, wbm@simmsshowerslaw.com, or (703) 771-4671 for greater details concerning how this information may affect you.

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