RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill that would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana cleared a hurdle Wednesday when the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the measure with a 10-3 vote. Senate Bill 2 will now go to the Senate Finance Committee.
The lawmaker backing the bill, Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), told 8News before this year’s General Assembly session began that he was “very optimistic” that the legislation would make it to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk. Ebbin’s bill would decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of the drug and make the penalty no more than $50.
On Wednesday, Ebbin shared his thoughts on the bill getting through the Senate Judiciary Committee and his effort to make sure it passes in 2020.
In 2015, a similar bill introduced by Ebbin was voted down 9-5 in the Courts of Justice Committee.
While acknowledging the measure may go through fine-tuning, Ebbin told 8News over the phone in November that he has received support from across the aisle and is “very optimistic” about the bill becoming a law. The state senator mentioned that the composition of the House of Delegates could help bring “meaningful passage” of the legislation.
In his conversation with 8News, Ebbin cited a list of repercussions that people with a simple possession charge could face — denied security clearances for jobs, child custody issues, student loan denial — as one of the reasons for filing the bill.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.