Virginia Legislature Considers Decriminalizing Marijuana

NORML is pleased to announce that House Bill 1134 (View Here), which seeks to amend marijuana possession and cultivation offenses, has been pre-filed for the 2010 legislative session. This measure amends present criminal marijuana penalties in several ways.

1. The bill would reduce minor marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, to a civil infraction punishable by a fine-only.

2. The bill would create a rebuttable presumption that a person who grows no more than five marijuana plants grows marijuana for personal use and not for distribution, an offense punishable by a $500 civil penalty. Under present law, marijuana cultivation in any amount is classified as a felony offense, punishable by between 5 and 30 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

3. The bill removes the two-year mandatory sentence for those found guilty of the distribution of less than one ounce of marijuana. House Bill 1134 also removes the the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for those found guilty of the distribution of more than one ounce of marijuana.

4. The bill also raises the quantities necessary for punishment of possession with intent to distribute so as not to punish amounts that may be possessed for personal use.

Passage of HB 1134 would spare minor marijuana offenders from criminal arrest and incarceration, as well as the emotional and financial hardships that follow. The measure would allow also law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts to re-allocate their existing resources toward activities that will more effectively target serious criminal behavior and keep the public safe.

Please contact your state representative and urge him or her to support HB 1134. For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to your state House member when you enter your contact information below.

Thank you for your support of NORML’s marijuana law reform efforts in Virginia.

– Article from NORML.