Changes in Virginia's Laws
This page is an adaptation of a presentation given by ACLU VA and Marijuana Justice, viewable below:
Fighting for Equitable Marijuana Reform at the General Assembly
More than 1,600 actions were taken by Virginians urging their lawmakers for equitable marijuana reform
Growth in partnerships
Growth in on-the-ground activists
The Truth about Marijuana Decriminalization
  • Law goes into effect July 1, 2020
  • Possession of marijuana in any amount continues to be ILLEGAL
  • Possessing up to one ounce of cannabis will be treated as a civil penalty punishable by $25 with no threat of jail time and no criminal record (Exception: intent to distribute)
criminal violation
  • Opportunity to have a public defender or appointed lawyer represent
  • The possibility to enter a diversion program resulting in complete expungement after a year
civil penalty
  • The charged person DOES NOT have right to counsel
  • Benefits wealthier people who can pay the penalty
  • Admission of violating the law could keep a person from entering the military or obtaining a federal job or loan, among other things
  • The “smell of marijuana” and “stop-and-frisk” will still be a problem
  • Commercial driver's license holders who unlawfully possess marijuana while operating commercial motor vehicles will be reported to the DMV
Criminalizing Our Youth
Possession of any amount of marijuana by a juvenile will be a criminal act – a “delinquency” – resulting in:
  • Mandatory drug screenings
  • Revocation of driver’s licenses for non-related driving offenses
  • Putting young people into a flawed juvenile criminal legal system for a civil infraction for what is a civil violation if committed by an adult
  • Harsher punishment for youth than adults
History of Marijuana Criminalization
History shows that past reports on marijuana and drug abuse have led to the creation of a criminal legal system that is stacked up against the Black community.
Tax Regulation and Narrative Criminalization
Marijuana Outlawed
Three-Strikes Laws
Marijuana Decriminalization
Virginia Independent Study of Marijuana Reform
  • Study due Nov. 30, 2020
  • Study and provide licensing and regulation of industrial hemp, medical cannabis, and adult use of cannabis
  • Study processing requirements for expungement of criminal records and rights restoration related to cannabis decriminalization
  • Study and recommend methods for diversifying ownership of the cannabis market
  • Study the potential development of a community reinvestment fund
Virginia Data-Led Marijuana Reform Should Address:
  • Criminal injustice
  • Social reinvestment accountability
  • Health and wellness access