Virginia looks poised to join the ranks of states to decriminalize marijuana, with Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announcing last week that he backs the policy.
The proposal is part of Northam’s broader criminal justice reform agenda for the new year, which along with cannabis decriminalization includes parole reform, raising the felony larceny threshold, raising the age of juvenile transfer to adult court, and the permanent elimination of driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fines, fees and court costs.
“All Virginians deserve access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system,” Northam said Friday in a statement. “My proposed criminal justice reform legislation and budget initiatives will combat mass incarceration, increase supports for returning citizens, and ensure meaningful second chances for those who have paid their debts to society. This is a bold step towards a more just and inclusive Commonwealth, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass these measures into law.”
Decriminalization is Getting More Popular
More than a dozen other states have decriminalized marijuana, with a growing number—most recently Illinois—embracing outright legalization. Under Northam’s proposal, Virginians busted for simple possession of pot would face a $50 civil penalty rather than a criminal misdemeanor. The lenient