Virginia’s Republican State Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment is proposing a bill that would make Marijuana possession only a civil offense.

Virginia is following a growing trend in the reform of Marijuana Laws as soon the state may decriminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use, although not fully.  Republican Tommy Norment has publicly stated that he does not support the full legalization of Cannabis but however wants to make the possession of the drug an offense that does not carry jail time and result in other related penalties such as a six-month revocation of an offender’s driver’s license and other consequences a conviction carries such as federal student aid eligibility, immigration status, housing assistance eligibility and child custody.  The senator and other lawmakers during a hearing earlier this week also alluded to the fact that the 13,000-people sent to jail every year are crowding the prison system and being unduly punished. Virginians appear to be in favor of decriminalizing Marijuana as more than 90% of written comments received by the crime commission from the public support decriminalization while just 107 of almost 4,000 are opposed to the idea.  Should the commission endorse legislature supporting decriminalization, it is very likely that the bill will pass.  The current law has a 30-days in jail and $500 maximum fine for first time offenders and convictions generally also result in a six month suspension of driving privileges.  Decriminalizing the drug would still mean that it is illegal to possess Cannabis, however it would only be a civil offense much like a traffic ticket.  The AAA also spoke with the commission and did not indicate whether the organization is for or against the proposal but indicated that decriminalization could have a negative effect on traffic safety. Thus far the crime commission has been briefed on a month -long study of the matter, the crime commission now is set to consider both remarks made at the hearing and the report after which it will or will not endorse the legislation.