Virginia’s General Assembly discussed several significant legislation in the 2020 lawmaking session. The lawmakers voted to decriminalize marijuana as the 2020 legislative session closed to an end.
Several discussions also took place on legalizing casinos, raising the minimum wage, and offering the power to the localities to take down Confederate monuments were made.
Both the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate consented on the bipartisan decriminalization plan. A penalty of $25 has been set for the first offense.
Approval was also granted to a request for studying marijuana legalization. If the Governor offers his consent and signs the bill, then possessing an ounce of weed would no longer be considered a crime in Virginia.
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“Decriminalization doesn’t mean completely legalizing the use of recreational marijuana use. It would be still considered a crime if more than an ounce of weed is found in possession in Virginia.”
Virginia NORML is an organization that has backed several marijuana reforms in the state. Jenn Michelle Pedini from the organization considers the move to be a massive victory for the state.
Pedini said, “Virginia is spending over $100 million taxpayer dollars arresting and prosecuting close to 30,000 people every year for marijuana possession”. Passing a bill would curb illegal sales of weed in the state.
NORML is advocating having proper legislation in place that verifies the age of individuals and keeps a tab on marijuana usage.
The legislation that is soon to reach the Governor’s desk broadens the definition of marijuana. It also includes extraction products that were previously defined as hash.
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Despite everything, if a juvenile is found in possession of marijuana, then it would be deemed to be juvenile delinquency.
Marijuana is currently legal in over 10 states. After the decriminalization bill is passed, the state will join ten other states that have decriminalized but not passed a bill for legal use.
A study has been commissioned by the lawmakers to study what full legalization would seem like in the state. This study would be completed before the next legislative session.
Pedini shared that NORML would advocate the full legalization of marijuana in the state. He shared that the best way to provide for consumer and public safety is to take marijuana off the street and put it behind an age verified counter.
Also, a couple of bills were passed by the legislature on providing easy access to medical cannabis. The measure will ensure more dispensaries being set up across the state.
The marijuana decriminalization bill has been passed in the final days of the session along with other bills. The legislature also passed bills concerning the online sale of lottery tickets, casino gambling, and the Equal Rights Amendment.
This year, the General Assembly had the most diverse membership ever that the state has witnessed. The first woman Speaker and also the first Jewish person to hold the position, Eileen Filler-Corn said that diversity makes it look a lot more like Virginia.
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She said that the assembly provided a unique opportunity to the lawmakers to make a real difference in the lives of Virginians.