On a 38-2 vote the Senate has approved legislation that would lessen the penalties for simple possession of marijuana on the first offense to a maximum fine of $500.
The legislation would eliminate the current 30-day incarceration penalty, but keep the existing misdemeanor criminal offense charge. The bill would allow offenders the option to expunge their conviction for a $300 dollar fee.
SOT Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said, “The expungement fee is being used, in part, to compensate the Virginia state police for maintaining a database that will be available to the courts and to prosecutors to determine whether or not someone has had the benefit of a first-offender status.”
Fairfax County Senator Adam Ebbin believes the new expungement fee unfarily penalizes minority and low income populations. “The bill continues down the path of turning our criminal justice system into a system that incentivizes policing for profit,” said Ebbin.
The bill now goes to the House.