Marijuana arrests in the Old Dominion State disproportionately affect black communities, but reform could be on the horizon—officials have launched a Virginia marijuana decriminalization study and they want to hear from the public.
The Virginia State Crime Commission’s executive committee agreed on April 5, 2017, that the commission needed study the potential for marijuana decriminalization in the state. With the study underway, the VSCC is looking to inform its study by hearing from the state’s residents. It is determining whether the penalty for simple possession should be downgraded from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine.
According to an announcement from the VSCC, “Please send written comments and any other information/materials relevant to this study via email to email@example.com or via postal mail to our office (address is below) by 5:00 p.m. Friday, August 25, 2017.”
“Seventy-eight percent of Virginians support this type of reform,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, Virginia NORML’s executive director, as reported by the Richmond-Dispatch Times.
For Virginians who support decriminalization, but are pressed for time, NORML has drafted a prewritten letter for advocates to submit to the commission.
For those who have time to write a more customized letter, Virginia NORML explained in an email to members, “What we do want is for you to include a brief personal account of how a marijuana possession charge has collaterally impacted yourself and/or your family … . Did you lose your scholarship? Your job? Your housing? Your children? Have you had difficulty finding meaningful employment simply because you have a misdemeanor possession conviction?”
The VSCC will present the findings of its study on Oct. 5.