Virginia Senate Panel Rejects Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Marijuana is weighed and packaged for sale in Seattle. Pot, at least certain amounts of it, could soon be decriminalized in Virginia. | AP Photo

A proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession in Virginia has been quickly snuffed out.

The Republican-controlled state Senate Courts of Justice Committee rejected Sen. Adam Ebbin’s decriminalization bill Wednesday on a party-line 9-5 vote.

The measure would have eliminated jail time for possession of marijuana, instead making it punishable by a maximum $100 civil penalty.

Ebbin, an Alexandria Democrat, argued that criminalization of marijuana has failed to reduce use of the drug and has made criminals out of nonviolent citizens.

Ebbin’s measure was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, which drew attention to racial disparities in marijuana arrests.

The bill drew opposition from the Virginia State Police, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys.

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