Possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be punishable by jail time in Virginia under decriminalization legislation lawmakers sent to Gov. Ralph... Virginia lawmakers vote to decriminalize marijuana, set $25 civil penalty for possession

Possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be punishable by jail time in Virginia under decriminalization legislation lawmakers sent to Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday.

“This means close to 30,000 people a year will no longer be labeled as criminals and no longer will suffer the negative repercussions of a criminal conviction,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, who carried the legislation in the Senate.

Like a traffic ticket

Under the legislation lawmakers passed, the drug will remain illegal, but violations of the law will be treated like minor traffic violations. The bill sets a $25 civil fine for possession of up to an ounce of the plant or products derived from it, including hash and oil concentrates. The legislation also seals records of past and future convictions and prohibits employers and educational institutes from inquiring about violations, with exceptions for law enforcement agencies.

Currently possession of a half-ounce or less is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Possession of hash and other concentrates is punished as a felony. [Read more at Virginia Mercury]

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