If you live in Virginia and have been trying to keep up to date with recent legal changes to marijuana laws, you may find yourself overwhelmed. Thanks to the constantly evolving climate surrounding marijuana possession nationwide, revisions to currently held positions are shifting frequently, with the most recent being Gov. Ralph Northam’s decision to sign a bill decriminalizing the substance in Virginia. Take a look at the new information regarding Virginia marijuana decriminalization, and stay informed.
Update On Virginia Marijuana Decriminalization
There has been an update regarding marijuana decriminalization in Virginia. Take a look at the new Virginia marijuana decriminalization information and educate yourself on the matter. Read on to take a glance inside the update.
What Does Marijuana Decriminalization Mean?
The word “decriminalization” may seem to indicate that it is now legal to possess and consume marijuana in Virginia, but this is not the case; decriminalization and legalization are two separate issues. Legalization would allow for people to carry and use marijuana. However, decriminalization does not quite reach this standard; instead, you can still be penalized for possessing marijuana, though the punishments are much less severe than they previously were and will no longer come with criminal penalties.
The Impact Of The New Virginia Decriminalization Law
The new law passed by Gov. Ralph Northam to decriminalize marijuana will have effects across multiple sectors, including employment and the method of documenting and recording any marijuana-related incidents. The new bill removes the $500 fine that you would receive for possessing a small amount of marijuana, as well as any criminal charges that used to go along with it. Instead, fines will be more in line with approximately $25 for an ounce or less of marijuana.
Violations Charged In The Same Summons As A Traffic Violation
In a change to previous documentation policies, marijuana possession citations are now charged in the same way as a traffic violation. In other words, according to the law, “The summons used by a law enforcement officer…shall be in form the same as the uniform summons for motor vehicle law violations.” This helps to streamline the process of recording violations.
Past Possession Charges Closed To Public
Because previous charges of marijuana possession are no longer considered criminal, per the definition of “decriminalized”, the public will no longer be able to access records of past possession charges. Formerly, a public inspection could disclose someone’s history of marijuana possession charges and criminal documentation; this newly passed bill removes this option, though the former charges are not expunged and may still be accessed privately.
Employers Can No Longer Require Disclosure Of Past Violations
In one of the most important updates, employers are no longer permitted to require that potential hires disclose past criminal charges of marijuana possession. This means that, because the possession of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense, those seeking employment will no longer have to report a criminal record of possession of marijuana which could have potentially resulted in losing the employment opportunity. Employees may still choose to disclose this information at their discretion, but employers may no longer mandate that it be shared as part of the hiring or employment process.
Additionally, employers are no longer allowed to require that someone disclose any marijuana-related encounters, whether that was with a criminal charge, part of a conviction or even if the case was later dropped. This information remains private to the individual going forward. Alongside employers, educational institutions are also subject to this new ruling and may not require disclosure of marijuana-related arrest.
The Future Of Marijuana Legalization In Virginia
Decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia is just the first step, but it is an important one. The bill also proposed that a group be selected to study the potential effects of widespread legalization; unfortunately, Gov. Northam’s request to extend the deadline for this report was denied. Still, decriminalization is one step closer to legalization, and many of the state’s public figures appear to be on board.
“Decriminalization is an incredibly important first step, and one that many thought we may never see in Virginia, but we cannot stop until we have legal and regulated adult use,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. The marijuana legalization advocacy group Virginia NORML is also fighting to push for decriminalization. It is difficult to tell where the state of marijuana possession may be even a year from now.
Reach Out To An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have any marijuana related charges, prior convictions, or are wondering about the current state of marijuana possession in Virginia, it is best to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge can assist you in ensuring you are being treated fairly under the new decriminalization law. Whether your employer is requiring disclosure or you believe your case was not documented in accordance with the new rulings, we can provide expert assistance. Reach out to discuss your situation. Call today by phone at (703) 273-5500 to learn more.