Thousands of people have served time in Virginia jails and prisons after being accused and convicted of drug possession or other drug charges. Many more have been searched or investigated by law enforcement agencies on suspicion of drug charges. But that era may be coming to an end.
Virginia’s governor signed a law that decriminalized the simplest drug charges related to marijuana possession. The law follows several other cities and states in reforming their drug laws to reduce the burden on citizens and police alike.
Simple possession of marijuana is now punishable by a $25 civil fine instead of criminal charges. This may not be the end of the reform movement, as the law also creates an inquiry into the possibility of legalizing and controlling the trade of marijuana.
This is the second attempt to reduce penalties for possession this year. Supporters claim that it is necessary to eliminate criminal charges because they are often used disproportionately to target specific populations.
“Decriminalization is an incredibly important first step, and one that many thought we may never see in Virginia, but we cannot stop until we have legal and regulated adult use,” said the Old Dominion’s attorney general.
People who continue to face drug charges in Virginia are always entitled to a legal defense at any point, from the start of questioning to the end of a trial. Many drug charges may not go to trial if an attorney has a chance to work with police and prosecutors. Legal representation throughout time in the criminal justice system may be recommended for those with claims of innocence.