All across America, federal and state governments continue to revisit how they treat marijuana and related drug crimes. However, only a minority of states have actually made marijuana legal. Virginia has not yet joined this group of states, but Virginians may see marijuana legalization steps by as early as 2021.
It started in January 2020, when the governor put the decriminalization of marijuana on Virginia’s legislative agenda. According to NPR, the governor planned to remove the legal basis for law enforcement to arrest people and put them in jail for the personal use of marijuana. Instead, he planned to put a $50 civil penalty in place.
Effective July 1, 2020
According to CNN, the governor successfully passed the bills for decriminalizing marijuana. The law that passed also led to a lower civil penalty than the figure originally proposed. Offenders may pay no more than $25 in civil penalties for personal-use cases. The governor also successfully eliminated jail time for the personal use of marijuana. This replaced penalties as high as $2,500 and jail sentences as long as 12 months.
Plans for November 2021
The current bill may also pave the way for legalization in 2021. It commissioned a group of researchers to study the impact legalization of marijuana may have on a population. The group may then report its findings to the governor by November 2021. At this time, Virginians may finally see the legalization of marijuana, but it may take a 2022 agenda placement to bring it to fruition.
The recreational use of marijuana may create complex questions scientists and law enforcement officials need to work hard to answer. This includes how to determine intoxication when marijuana shows up in someone’s test, but they had not partaken in the drug for several days or even weeks. However, the world may never get those answers or create solutions until real-world cases have played out often enough.