Since 2013, marijuana arrests have reduced in Virginia as enforcement officials turn their attention to more pressing issues in the state. According to the Virginia State Police, marijuana arrests and drug charges have dropped by about 14 percent all across the state from 2013 to 2015. The data from this year also shows a decrease.
Generally, marijuana laws are becoming less popular nationwide as a majority of Americans support the legalization of the drug. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe supports medical marijuana, which is currently legal in 28 states. However, Virginia still has not legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes.
What is the reason for this decrease? Experts say it is not due to a drop in marijuana usage but rather a move toward legalization. While marijuana laws still exist, Virginia seems to be enforcing these laws less and less as the years go by. Prosecutors in Hampton and Newport News decided to put their resources toward homicides and gun crimes rather than marijuana possession cases. Therefore, police officers had to handle any marijuana cases on their own, just as they handle traffic cases.
However, Newport News has brought on two new prosecutors to focus on marijuana cases so that officers can refer their marijuana cases to them. Some officers even say that they have not cut down on their enforcement.
Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin is a strong supporter of the decriminalization of marijuana laws in the state. His goal is to make possession a civil violation and charge people a fine. That way people can avoid jailtime and a criminal record. As of now though, marijuana is still illegal and can result in serious consequences.
Source: Daily Press, "Enforcement up in smoke? Marijuana arrests down sharply across state, region," Peter Dujardin, Dec. 3, 2016