Virginia: Majority Shift in Legislature Opens Door for Major Marijuana Law Reform

Tuesday, November 5, control of Virginia’s legislature shifted to democrats, opening the door for decriminalization, expungement, and establishing a clear path to legalizing responsible adult-use in the Commonwealth.

Despite broad support from legislators on both sides of the aisle, decriminalization, expungement, and legalization bills have historically met a swift demise along party lines in the House and Senate Committees that hear criminal justice bills. With democrats now controlling these Committees, these bills will finally have the opportunity for honest debates and to advance for votes on the House and Senate floors.

Virginia’s medical cannabis program, which currently affords patients, caregivers, and processors only an affirmative defense, will also see potential for robust expansion to improve patient access.

“The majority shift will bring a sea change to marijuana policy in the Commonwealth,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “Virginia spent over $100M in 2018 enforcing prohibition, which flies in the face of public opinion. Three quarters of Virginians favor fines not crimes for possession of marijuana, and six out of ten support legalizing adult-use. Finally, Virginia has a path to implement evidence-based policies that reflect the attitudes of its constituents.”

Local races also brought reform-minded Commonwealth’s Attorneys to multiple districts, many of whom have pledged not to prosecute low-level marijuana offenses.


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For more information contact Jenn Michelle Pedini.