Virginia’s cannabis decriminalization law took effect July 1. The law reclassifies possession of one ounce or less of cannabis to a civil penalty punishable by a fine of up to $25, the lowest fine of any decriminalization law in the country. Reports the Leaf Online

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed the decrim bill (SB 2HB 972) into law in May, making Virginia the 27th state to decriminalize simple possession.

The decriminalization law also creates a work group to study legalization in Virginia and make recommendations by November 30, 2020. Last week, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus pledged to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis during a special session set for August, among other criminal justice and policing reforms.

“Decriminalizing cannabis will save thousands of Virginians from the trauma of arrest and the stigma of a criminal conviction,” said Steve Hawkins, MPP’s executive director.

“However, Virginia lawmakers should continue to work towards broader cannabis policy reform. As the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus has recognized, full legalization is needed. While decriminalization is long overdue, legalization is necessary to dramatically reduce police-civilian interactions and remove the pretext for countless police stops.”

“Twenty-seven states have now decriminalized cannabis,” added Olivia Naugle, MPP’s legislative analyst, “and Virginia’s decriminalization law is the strongest among them. Once the law is in effect, it will prevent Virginians from being criminalized and having their lives derailed for simple cannabis possession.”

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