There is a strong effort underway to reform marijuana laws in Virginia. Senate Bill 686 would decriminalize marijuana possession in Virginia. There is also an effort to try to get medical marijuana legalized in Virginia as well. Almost every national reform organization is lobbying the Virginia Legislature to make changes. A poll that was released this week should help those efforts. Per Politico:
According to a Christopher Newport University survey released Tuesday, 71 percent of registered Virginia voters support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, compared to 26 percent who oppose it. Sixty-nine percent support legalizing medical marijuana in the state, while 29 percent oppose.
The poll comes days after Democratic state Sen. Adam Ebbin introduced a bill to decriminalize the possession of less than a half an ounce of marijuana, for which a first-time offender now faces jail time, a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine. Ebbin's bill would get rid of the criminal charge and make the penalty a $100 fine.
The NAACP and the ACLU have already offered support for the legislation, citing statistics that criminal charges for marijuana possession have a disproportionately negative impact on minority communities. Ebbin has said that the criminal charges for marijuana hurt Virginia's economy because of enforcement costs and the harm to nonviolent citizens.
For the sake of justice, logic, compassion, and sanity, I hope marijuana reform comes to Virginia soon. I think that marijuana decriminalization will ultimately pass, but I'm hopeful that we see a meaningful medical marijuana law passed as well. If 69% of Virginia voters supported any idea, politicians would be chomping at the bit to jump on the bandwagon. Why is medical marijuana any different?