RICHMOND, VA — Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission are seeking written comments from the public with regard to the topic of decriminalizing marijuana possession.
The commission is studying the issue at the request of Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, who tasked members to “undertake a study examining a future change to the Code of Virginia regarding criminal penalties related to the possession of small amounts of marijuana.”
Members of the public may submit written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org until August 25, 2017.
The commission’s findings will be presented on October 5.
“Virginia lawmakers will now be able to introduce decriminalization in the General Assembly supported with the facts and conclusions of the decriminalization study,” representatives from Virginia NORML, who pushed for the task force, said in a statement.
Under Virginia law, the possession of one-half ounce of cannabis or less is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
The number of Virginians arrested for violating the state’s marijuana possession laws rose 76 percent between 2003 and 2014.
African Americans in Virginia are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at more than three times the rates of whites, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data published earlier this year.
Two proposals to decriminalize marijuana possession in Virginia failed to advance in the state legislature earlier this year.
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