Governor Northam signs marijuana decriminalization bill

Posted at 6:30 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 20:14:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Governor Northam took final action on decriminalizing marijuana with a newly signed law.

Northam signed Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 972, identical bills that decriminalize simple marijuana possession, on Thursday.

The new law goes into effect on July 1.

The law states that a civil penalty of no more than $25 will be implemented for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, with no jail time.

Under the current law, possession of marijuana is a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail, classifying it as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The new law states that any violation of simple possession of marijuana shall be charged by a summons in form the same as the uniform summons for motor vehicle law violations and that no court costs shall be assessed for such violations.

The law also states that a person's criminal history record information shall not include records of any charges or judgments for such violations and records of such charges or judgments shall not be reported to the Central Criminal Records Exchange.

However, the bill states that if a violation occurs while an individual is operating a commercial motor vehicle, such violation shall be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles and shall be included on such individual's driving record.

“I am proud of the accomplishments we made together during this General Assembly session,” said Governor Northam. “We advanced long-neglected priorities, including rights and protections for Virginians. We were able to redirect funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and a number of the laws we enacted are proving to be more important than ever. My administration will continue to work with the General Assembly to craft budget and legislative responses to the pandemic’s effects on our Commonwealth.”