Decriminalize pot? Bill could force Va. lawmakers to vote on marijuana

Posted at 7:23 PM, Nov 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-10 19:27:20-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Marijuana votes and laws have swept parts of the country, but so far that has not included Virginia.

But one state lawmaker is hoping to change that, proposing new legislation that would drastically decriminalize pot.

State Senator Adam Ebbin spoke with CBS 6 Monday about his new bill, that would change the penalty for possession from $500 and 30 days in jail to a civil fine of $100 that does not impact your criminal record.

"I don't think marijuana decriminalization has ever been introduced in the Virginia Senate," Senator Ebbin said. "I think criminalizing marijuana,  disrupting careers and families, does more harm than the drug itself does."


Ebbin stresses that his bill still penalizes sellers and distributors.

CBS 6 News set up our microphone at Monroe Park and on Cary Street in Richmond to hear what Virginians think.

Reactions to the question, "Should pot be legal?" ranged from, "hell yes," to an emphatic, "no."

"It is going to hurt society as a whole," Kevin Carroll, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia, said.

Carroll said he plans on fighting the legislation for various reasons, including the potency of modern-day pot, the lack of understanding as to potential side effects and the impact on crime solving.


Carroll said busting people for marijuana often leads to arresting other criminals with more serious offenses.

"If you catch someone for a small crime, you can usually get them to cooperate and go after someone for a much bigger crime,"Carroll explained.

This legislation, which can be found here,is expected to be debated when the General Assembly convenes in January.