Several states legalized marijuana in some forms this year and it's left a lasting impression around the country. While some state officials were quick to submit new legislation to follow the legalization trend, others like Virginia Senator Thomas Norment Jr. have requested a state study of cannabis by the Virginia State Crime Commission. The study would be focused on finding what consequences states experienced after loosening marijuana laws, the latest research on marijuana as a 'gateway drug', and the potential for regulating drivers under the influence of the drug. Some lawmakers have heard the voices of young people and changed their minds, but others remain committed to prohibition despite it's harsh penalties for a victimless crime.
The Senate's majority leader last week requested that a state criminal justice agency examine Virginia's marijuana laws in light of recent national developments — and then weigh in on what kinds of changes might make sense.
"I think it's absolutely crazy that we continue to lock people up for possession of a modest amount of marijuana," Norment told the Norfolk City Council on Nov. 1, according to The Virginian-Pilot. "We are tough on crime. It's a question of what crimes we want to be tough on."
Under current Virginia law, a first simple marijuana possession conviction is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.