The majority leader of the Virginia Senate said Monday he plans to introduce legislation next year that would decriminalize marijuana possession for first-time offenders.
The change would save thousands of people from the threat of criminal records and jail time. More than 112,000 people were arrested on first-offense marijuana charges from 2007 to 2016, a statewide review found.
Sen. Tommy Norment’s comments came as the State Crime Commission heard the results of a study and listened to dozens of speakers on both sides of the issue.
Norment said his bill, which is being drafted, would make first-time marijuana possession a civil offense punishable by a fine, mandatory education and a driver’s license suspension.
Subsequent offenses would remain crimes punishable by jail time.
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