A Virginia legislative committee has given approval to legislation that would revise a law that mandates a person has their driver’s license suspended when caught possessing marijuana.
The Committee for the Courts of Justice voted 14 to 1 to pass Senate Bill 1091. The measure would revoke a long-standing law that leads to the immediate suspension of individuals charged with marijuana possession.
“I think the General Assembly will recognize that taking someone’s driver’s license away for a marijuana offense is irrelevant punishment, and can actually make it more difficult to hold a job, which is not something that anyone should want,” State Senate Adam Ebbin told 13News Now.
The committee indefinitely passed on Ebbin’s Senate Bill 1269, which would have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. The committee did, however, vote to establish a study on the potential decriminalization of cannabis, which would be conducted by the State Crime Commission.
“I would say that the prohibition on marijuana has failed in Virginia,” says Senator Ebbin., “[W]e need to study how we can move forward. It’s long past time to look at this, and I’m hoping the Crime Commission will take a look.”
Under current Virginia law, the possession of up to a half ounce of cannabis is a Class I misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500 for a first offense, and up to a year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500 for subsequent offense. Possession of over half an ounce is automatically considered for distribution purposes and is punishable by a felony and up to 10 years in prison (including a one-year mandatory minimum sentence).
The full text of Senate Bill 1091 can be found by clicking here.