Virginia Decriminalizes ‘Simple Possession’ of Marijuana

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Virginia is the latest state to ease penalties on marijuana.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday signed into law H.B. 972, which will eliminate jail time for those found guilty of “simple possession” of the drug.

State law imposes a maximum fine of $500 and a sentence of up to 30 days in jail for anyone caught with marijuana for personal use. The new law decriminalizes such possession starting July 1 and imposes a $25 fine.

Though legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia for medical use and 11 states and the District of Columbia for recreational use, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 illegal drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew M. Ballard in Raleigh, N.C. at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina May at; Katherine Rizzo at

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