On Monday, January 17, lawmakers on the House Courts of Justice, Criminal Subcommittee decided on a voice vote to “pass by indefinitely” legislation, HB 1443, which sought to reduce criminal marijuana penalties for first-time offenders. It is possible that the Committee could reconsider the measure later this year, though this outcome is unlikely. Del. Morgan, the sponsor of HB 1443, has already vowed to reintroduce a similar measure next year.
Virginia NORML, which backed HB 1443, co-organized a Lobby Day to coincide with Monday’s hearing and vote. An estimated 75 citizens participated in the day-long event, about a dozen of whom testified in favor of HB 1443. (You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of the measure here.). Unlike in past years, no one, including representatives of law enforcement or the state prosecutors office, testified publically against the measure.
Representatives of Virginia NORML did have the opportunity to meet privately with members of the Committee prior to the days’ vote. Though many members of the Committee expressed reservations regarding the bill, as evidenced by their vote, several members did express less staunch opposition than in years pass. Ultimately however, Delegates Albo, Bell, who chairs the subcommittee, and Gilbert continue to be hurdles in the effort to enact sensible marijuana law reform in Virginia.
If you live in Virginia, please consider contacting the abovementioned Delegates, stating:
“I am disappointed with your failure to support HB 1443, which would have reallocated criminal justice costs and benefited public safety. I hope that you will reconsider your position when this measure is reintroduced in a future legislative session.”
Please also become a member of Virginia NORML. You can contact the organization at: http://www.virginianorml.org, or follow the group on Facebook here. Additional information on marijuana law reform efforts in Virginia is available from: Sabrina@norml.org.
Read the original post:
Virginia Lawmakers Quash Marijuana Decriminalization Measure