New laws include marijuana decriminalization

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 8:34 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Many new laws take effect on Wednesday here in Virginia, and supporters of marijuana reform will be among those who are celebrating.

They also say their work isn’t done.

“This is a really big day,” said Virginia NORML Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini. “And it’s a victory that comes after a multi-year sustained effort by Virginia NORML and a broad coalition of reform supporters.”

The bill that passed the General Assembly earlier this year, and received the Governor’s signature, makes personal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a civil offense, punishable by a fine of $25.

Pedini says that should reduce arrests by about 50 percent, but the organization’s advocacy doesn’t end there.

“And as excited as we are about this, decriminalization is not a public policy solution for marijuana prohibition,” Pedini told WDBJ7 in an interview Tuesday morning. “And the Commonwealth really must act swiftly to legalize and regulate responsible adult use.”

Recent polls indicate a majority of Virginians approve legalization, but it remains a controversial issue. And it’s unclear whether or not lawmakers are ready to take that step.

The General Assembly did order studies of marijuana legalization and regulation.

And the reports are expected toward the end of the year, in time for the 2021 session of the General Assembly.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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