Washington, DC: Raising state criminal penalties for possessing marijuana will have a disproportionate impact on Virginians under age 30, and would divert law enforcement resources from other priorities, according to a study released this week by Virginia NORML and the NORML Foundation.
The report, entitled "An Argument Against Increasing the Maximum Penalty for Marijuana Possession in Virginia," was produced in response to proposed legislation, House Bill 737, that sought to raise marijuana possession penalties to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The House Courts of Justice, Subcommittee on Criminal Law rejected the measure yesterday, after having received copies of the report.
"Research consistently reports that severe penalties do not effectively deter marijuana use," states the study, which notes that cannabis use, on average, is lower in Virginia than in states with more stringent penalties. The report further notes that over half of those arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia are under age 30, and one third are under the age of 25.
"Longer sentences for marijuana possession will send more young men to jail for longer periods of time, and this also means that these young men will spend longer periods of time in the company of more serious offenders," the study says.
"In conclusion, increasing the maximum penalty for marijuana possession in Virginia is unnecessary, too expensive, and counterproductive."
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500 or Virginia NORML President Jon Gettman Full text of the report, "An Argument Against Increasing the Maximum Penalty for Marijuana Possession in Virginia," is available online at: http://www.norml.org/pdf_files/stat...mum_Penalty.pdf