As,The number of marijuana arrests has finally come down in Virginia. It is good news for the pro-legalization camp. The arrests have dropped down to an all-time low number decreased by 90%. The arrests have gone down most significantly in the Richmond region of Virginia.
Decreased marijuana arrests stats
After the new law passed in Virginia, there were only 25 marijuana-related arrests in Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico. Last year during the same week period in these areas, there were 257 marijuana arrests.
Virginia’s new cannabis law
Virginia’s new cannabis law has brought a lot of liberties for marijuana users. Hence, the law legalizes the possession of marijuana up to an ounce and the cultivation of four pot plants per household, among other decriminalization provisions. These laws have directly affected the number of marijuana arrests.
Jenn Michelle Pedini, who is development director for NORML and also serves as executive director of the Virginia chapter, said, “A 90% reduction in marijuana arrests indicates that the public policy is performing as intended and in a manner that is consistent with post-legalization observations from other states.”
The large number of people arrested recently are mostly because of their unfamiliarity with the new law.
The Chesterfield Case
On August 10, police arrested a man in Chesterfield who had 50 pot plants growing in his home. Hence, this exceeds the limit of the state’s limit of four plants. The suspect didn’t tag his plants with the grower’s name and driver’s license number either.
Moreover, the grower is facing two felonies: possession with the intent to distribute more than 5 pounds of marijuana and possession of between 50 and 100 marijuana plants.
Arrests among young people
Most of the number of arrests – 10 have been among young people between the ages of 18-21. The marijuana users between the age of 18-20 who were charged with simple possession of the drug while under the prescribed legal age of 21, which is a civil violation. The new law allows adults who are 21 and over to possess up to an ounce for recreational use, but it cannot be consumed or shared in public.
Most cases in a region
The largest number of marijuana arrests are in Chesterfield since the imposition of new Virginia cannabis laws. Police have charged or issued summonses to 20 people — seven of whom were juveniles ages 16 or 17 — through August 19. But overall, Chesterfield’s marijuana arrests have dropped 86% so far this year.
The Police chief of Chesterfield, Jeffery Katz, said, “In terms of our enforcement, we have not shied away from enforcing any laws that are on the books…We believe that arrests or prosecutions are advantageous for public safety. So that’s kind of the philosophy that we operate under. I mean, we’re not out actively looking for marijuana arrests. But if we see violations of the law, and we feel it appropriate, we make the charge.”
Readers should remember that Virginia’s move toward decriminalization has not yet altered. As, existing state laws governing possession with intent to distribute marijuana, which remains a felony offense. But overall, it is a commendable change and a step in the right decision.
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