Virginia – The WSJ Team regrets to inform our followers that the VA proposed Senate Bill 686 (SB 686) led by NoVa lawmaker, Adam Ebbin of Arlington has been overruled by state legislation. The General Assembly gathered on the afternoon of January 28th in Richmond, VA, which included both state legislators and a public audience to openly discuss the pros/cons of marijuana decriminalization. Unfortunately at this time there is not much detail on the state’s final decision other than the proposition was defeated. What we do know is that the meeting included Sen. Ebbin providing a synopsis on the proposed decriminalization, which would include a $100 fine vs. a criminal defense, along with professional input from the public audience. In fact, the public audience support was so large, that only a few members were selected to provide each a 5-minute testimonial in support of the decriminalization.
In addition to proposing SB 686 to the state of VA, Sen. Ebbin also sought to remove the current automatic license suspension that is a blanket-rule for all VA marijuana possession ‘offenders.’ Currently the state requires that a judge revoke an ‘offender’s’ driving privileges for at least six months, regardless of the amount of marijuana one was possessing, or whether or not they were operating a vehicle at the time of their ‘offense.’ This suspension is based off of two policy concerns: 1) To prevent ‘offenders’ from using drugs while driving, and 2) to intimidate ‘offenders’ who use drugs by taking their license, in hopes they will not repeat their behavior. Unfortunately this proposition was also defeated by the state, along with the SB 686 on January 28th. While we are saddened to learn the state of VA believes their current policies on marijuana charges are what’s “best” for the community, we are also appreciative and respectful of Sen. Adam Ebbin and his entire staff for having a vision, and looking to make a change, despite the negative stigmas and reputations they faced. Ebbin’s office confirmed this will not be the final attempt to decriminalize marijuana or remove the driving suspension; if anything, they are using this as motivation to continue to publicize the many benefits the state would inherit by reducing current labor focused on marijuana charges ($67M annually), as well as joining the growing nation of marijuana acceptance.
Despite the defeats of the propositions, there is a green lining we need to recognize – our population is growing. What was once thought to be filled with only ‘burn-outs’, ‘hippies’ and ‘laziness’ has evolved into highly respected individuals who believe the health benefits of marijuana outweigh any negatives, or that being a recreational user hardly defines you as a criminal. Legislators are stepping up and taking a stand as our unified voice, and although the state of VA dodged decriminalization approval for 2015, this really only gave us an entire other year to prove the growing list of decriminalization profits.
Keep it Green,
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Still feeling a little down? Check out this list of SUCCESSFUL recreational users!