Virginia unlikely to decriminalize marijuana this year; Virginia NORML reacts

Jail time for marijuana possession will continue in the commonwealth, at least for now.

A key panel in the Virginia State House recently rejected a proposal to decriminalize the drug. The bill would have made marijuana possession of a half-ounce or less a civil offense subject to a ticket or fine. This comes after a state crime commission study found decriminalization would prevent more than 10,000 arrests across Virginia every year.

Legal marijuana advocates said the defeat was not unexpected, but for them, the fight will continue.

"The decriminalization conversation in Virginia is an important one to continue. Virginia is also spending around $70 million annually arresting and prosecuting 22,000 for marijuana possession," said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law).

Lawmakers will consider two bills next week that will expand Virginia's regulated medical cannabis program.