Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Thursday finally approved the law to halt legal action over the possession of cannabis for personal use. Virginia becomes the 27th US state to abolish criminal penalties for cannabis users. The new law states that the maximum penalty for possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis will be a $25 fine without a criminal record.
Until now, possession of any amount of cannabis in Virginia was considered a crime with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of $500 also, and of course, a criminal case with all the associated consequences.
In 2018, nearly 29,000 arrests were made in Virginia for cannabis offenses, a number that has tripled since 1999. Cannabis arrests accounted for 59% of all drug arrests in the state.
The decriminalization of cannabis was one of the election promises of the Northern Democratic Governor. A survey conducted in December 2019 reported 83% of Virginians are strongly supportive of the amendment.
The new law will take effect on July 1, making Virginia the 27th state out of 50 to decriminalize and the first to do so in 2020. In the last few years, many states took action across the US.
On the other hand, local legislators in the capital Richmond approved a resolution last week that calls on the city to stop testing certain workers as a condition of employment.