Virginia to again consider marijuana decriminalization

Virginia to again consider marijuana decriminalization
The state’s current law carries a jail sentence of up to 30 days and a maximum fine of $500 for a first violation.

By DENISE LAVOIE | AP Legal Affairs Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia has lagged behind many states when it comes to relaxing laws on marijuana.

But during the last legislative session, lawmakers approved an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program. As the General Assembly gears up for the start of a new legislative session on Jan. 9, supporters of decriminalization are hoping that momentum will continue.

Democratic state Sen. Adam Ebbin plans to re-introduce a bill that would decriminalize simple marijuana possession and provide a maximum civil penalty of $50 for a first violation. The state’s current law carries a jail sentence of up to 30 days and a maximum fine of $500 for a first violation.

Supporters say it may be difficult to get Republican support for the bill. Some prosecutors and police remain opposed to decriminalization.

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