As states around the country are decriminalizing the use of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use, Virginia has been reluctant to get into the conversation. According to Newsplex, times could be changing. The state Crime Commission is ordering a full study of issues surrounding marijuana decriminalization, including how other states are managing pot use, and what to consider for both recreational and medical uses of the drug.
The study comes as Gov. McAuliffe signed a bill into law that allows the production of low-THC cannabis oil in pharmacies in order to help treat patients with epilepsy. A study of THC cannabis oil use in patients with Crohn’s disease and cancer is currently underway.
Under current state law, possession of marijuana (without intent to distribute) is a misdemeanor. Those caught with a small amount of the substance are eligible for the first offender program, and it no longer immediately suspends your driver’s license. Gov. McAuliff also signed a law giving first-time offenders the option to do community service instead of having their license restricted.
All of this comes, the Virginian-Pilot explains, as the states surrounding Virginia change their marijuana laws. Both Maryland and West Virginia will have legal medical marijuana, and Washington, D.C. has legal recreational pot. North Carolina is moving towards decriminalization. The states that have embraced marijuana, like Colorado, have seen a huge increase in revenue from taxes, which has helped to de-politicize the issue of marijuana reform. Although the laws have not yet changed in the commonwealth, the study by the Crime Commission is a step that shows the state could be moving in a different direction.