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Will marijuana be decriminalized in Virginia?

The way that marijuana is being regarded in some states throughout the nation is changing. Now the state of Virginia is exploring the way in which the criminal justice system views the drug. This is because a bill that decriminalizes the drug is being considered by the legislature this month.

The results of a recent poll indicate that many Virginia residents support changing the way that marijuana is regarded in the state. Seventy five percent support legalizing medical marijuana and 60 percent favor decriminalizing it. There are multiple other reasons why marijuana might be decriminalized in the state of Virginia.

The first is economic. Tobacco firms in the state might be able to move into the cultivation of the drug. This could benefit the state as a whole. After Colorado legalized both medical as well as recreational marijuana, the state collected tax revenues of $50 million in the first 10 months.

Another economic factor that favors legalization of the drug is the cost associated with a case making its way through the criminal justice system. Estimates put the total cost of pursuing such cases—including arresting, trying and punishing the accused—at more than $60 million annually.

Issues with current enforcement procedures are also a concern. This is because arrest rates are much higher for African-American individuals as opposed to those who are Caucasian.

How the legislature will handle the matter remains to be seen. The outcome will likely be of interest to many however and it is certain that criminal defense lawyers will be keeping an eye on the legislation.

Source: WVTF, "Marijuana Reforms: Sales Potential," Sandy Hausman, Jan. 9, 2015

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