Virginia may tighten rules around legal use of marijuana

Less than a year after Virginia became the first Southern state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the rules may be tightening.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration is proposing increasing the penalties connected to marijuana possession. Under the new proposal it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor for personal possession of more than 2 ounces of marijuana and a Class 1 misdemeanor for more than 6 ounces but under a pound.

Currently, possessing more than an ounce but less than a pound is subject to only a civil penalty of $25. Possessing more than a pound is considered a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, issued a statement about the new penalties, saying, “This is yet another attempt to re-activate the War on Drugs under the lie of public safety. Criminalization is a public health issue and legislators should vote to keep us healthy and safe, instead of pointing us toward courts, jails and prisons all for weed.”

A state Legislative Audit and Review Commission came up with the proposed changes. Youngkin also wants to set age restrictions for CBD, potentially prohibiting sales to those under 21.

In addition, the administration wants to ban products with Delta-8 THC. Critics say it gives people a high similar to Delta-9, the main compound in marijuana.

In a statement issued this week, Youngkin said, “We protected Virginians from potentially harmful synthetically-modified substances while preserving the market for regulated CBD products currently available.”

The new proposals will be considered by the General Assembly later this month.

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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