State Crime Commission asks for feedback on study of marijuana decriminalization

NORFOLK, Va. - Virginia's State Crime Commission is currently studying decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana. Now, the commission is asking for feedback for anyone interested.

Staff on the commission is meeting with stakeholders and people interested in the topic, but say they won't be able to talk to everyone due to the high level of interest in the study. People interested in providing their feedback can email vsccinfo@vscc.virginia.gov or send them a letter by 5 p.m. on August 25.

"Responsible adults should be able to choose to be able to consume a plant that's grown naturally," said Daniel Rouleau from Virginia NORML, a group advocating for decriminalization. "Personally, several years ago I was convicted of cannabis possession and it really had a detrimental impact on my life."

State Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment from James City County asked for the study earlier this year. If marijuana were to be decriminalized, it could lessen the punishment to a ticket and fine, instead of possible jail time and a criminal record.

The study's findings will be presented in October. Norfolk city council members also expressed support for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Earlier this month, a new law went into effect the eliminates the automatic suspension of a driver's license for adults convicted of simple marijuana possession.

The law gives a judge the option to either suspect the license or sentence the person to community service.

A White House task force is expected to release a report in a few days that could recommend tougher punishments for people caught growing, selling, or smoking marijuana. White House officials have made it clear where they stand on the drug. "Let me be clear about marijuana," Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said in April. "It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs."

Address of where to send letter to crime commission:

Patrick Henry Building
1111 East Broad Street
Suite B036
Richmond, Virginia 23219