RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed several bills Sunday that included criminal justice reform legislation and a proposed amendment which would decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana, according to his website.
The decriminalization of marijuana is included as an amendment in House Bill 972. It proposes the decriminalizing of the simple possession of marijuana, creating a $25 civil penalty fee. The bill would also seal the records and convictions and prohibits employers from looking into past convictions. It also sets out to include a workgroup to study the overall impact of the legalization of marijuana, which Northam says he would require a report from by November 30, 2021.
Northam also proposed two bills called "Fishback Bills" under amendments in House Bill 33 and Senate Bill 793, making individuals sentenced by juries between 1995 and 2000 eligible for parole consideration.
The rest of the legislation package includes bills increasing the felony larceny threshold from $500 to $1,000; requires the reinstatement of a person's driver's license suspended prior to July 1, 2019, based solely on nonpayment of fines or costs without a reinstatement fee; raising the age when a Commonthwealth's attorney can allow a juvenile to be tried as an adult without court approval from 14 to 16; Stop the practice of driver's licenses suspensions for non-driving related offenses such as drugs; allows the pursuit of the writ of actual innocence by modifying the standards on the pardoning process; allows inmates to earn credits against any fines and court costs against them through community service.
“Every Virginian deserves access to a fair and equitable criminal justice system,” said Governor Northam. “These bills combat mass incarceration, increase support for returning citizens, and ensure that those who have paid their debt to society have a meaningful second chance. I thank the General Assembly for working with us to build a more just and inclusive Commonwealth.”