It can be upsetting to think that a single mistake can impact the rest of one’s life, but the reality is that having a criminal record can limit opportunities in the future. Some lawmakers in Virginia are seeking to address this problem when it comes to certain drug charges. Although there has already been some progress when it comes to marijuana possession, there is still room for improvement.
In 2020, state lawmakers decided to decriminalize marijuana — to an extent. Those who are found with less than an ounce of marijuana only have to pay a $25 fine and do not have to serve any jail time. Another bonus is that the offense will not show up on their criminal records.
A more recently proposed regulation would take a step further and actually legalize marijuana in the state of Virginia. The new proposal cites issues such as substance use disorder or substance abuse, and how current criminal treatment of individuals with these issues goes against modern understanding of how to help. Legalizing marijuana would do more than just help keep people out of the criminal justice system, it would also help promote public health.
As this is still a proposal, anyone who is found with more than one ounce of marijuana may still face harsh criminal consequences. It is not uncommon for defendants facing drug charges to face both steep fines and jail time for such offenses. To minimize these and other legal and personal consequences, defendants are well advised to begin working on their criminal defense strategies as early on in the process as possible.