Virginia marijuana arrests
Virginia marijuana arrests

Marijuana-Related Arrests Drop by 90% in Virginia after Cannabis Legalization

Another state seeing a 90% drop in cannabis-related arrests after legalization.

Posted by:
BostonBakedPete on Monday Oct 4, 2021

Cannabis-Related Arrests in Virginia Decrease by 90 Percent after Legalization

Virginia marijuana arrests

Cannabis-related arrests have drastically reduced since the latest decriminalization legislation was implemented on the First of July, 2021.

In the past, summer always ended with the police department recording dozens of cannabis-related arrests in and around the capital area of Virginia. The new law, which approved the possession of little quantities of cannabis flower has been effective enough to keep Virginia residents out of jail these past two months.

The local law enforcement data reveals that during last year's summer, over 250 cannabis-related arrests occurred. The arrests spanned from possession to illegal sales and illegal cultivation of the plant.

While people can still get arrested for these types of charges, the government has made better allowances for people to wiggle in.

Since the law was implemented seven weeks ago, at least six of the arrested offenders are being charged with a felony for illegally distributing marijuana and possession of more than one ounce of the drug with the intent to sell to other residents or visitors.


Virginia's Cannabis Legislation

Virginia's new legislation states that residents can cultivate a few strands of cannabis plants in their homes. Growers have been asked to label their plants with their driver's license tag or any means of identification. In addition to this, there must be a note that tells officials that the planet is being grown for personal consumption.

The most important feature of the new law is that residents who are 21 years and above now have the right to use marijuana.

They can legally hold up to 1 ounce of cannabis in public without the fear of being arrested by law enforcement agents.

The measure makes no provision for the sales of cannabis, but there's hope for this, as the state plans to launch a regulated cannabis market in 2024.

A regulatory board will be set up to issue out licenses and also lay down rules for the intending operators to follow in the industry.

For now, anyone caught cultivating more than four stands of the cannabis plant will be charged with a felony, as well as those caught with the intent to distribute cannabis.


Implementing The New Law

Virginia's state police and other Commonwealth police departments within the states have followed the legislation to the later.

This may also be due to the high rates of other crimes like shootings and killings which are occurring in various regions in the state. The law enforcement officers are most of their attention targeted to reducing crimes like gun violence homicide, burglaries, and robberies.

In Richmond, there have been several occurrences of theft from motor vehicles, residential burglaries, and gun violence. According to the Richmond City Police Chief, Geral Smith in a statement released to quell the fears of residents and visitors, he made it known that Richmond officers are working on strategies that would be effective to solve the evolving security needs of the communities.

Eric English, Henrico's Police Chief, said that his base is prepared to adapt to the new legislation. Eric says he believes that policing is a challenging profession and all officers must always be prepared for a change in its rules.


Cannabis-Related Arrests Since July 1

Arrests have been reduced by more than 90% since the new law was approved.

The total number of arrests that have occurred since the law took effect is 25. These arrests were carried out by officers in Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico counties.

Chesterfield has recorded the highest of these arrests.

At least 20 people have been charged with felony over cannabis possession and possession with intent to sell since the law was implemented. Chesterfield also has the highest number of people who have been issued summonses over non-compliance with the fine settlement.

Despite all this, the county's police department says that cannabis arrests have been reduced by 86%.

The offender with the most serious charges was caught in Chesterfield. He was found cultivating an estimated number of 50 cannabis plants. The crop was also found without an identification tag to indicate the owner was permitted to grow such an amount.

Jeffrey Katz, the County's Police Chief is of the opinion that the new law may be a mistake. He called it a 'poor public policy. Before the law was implemented in July, Katz took to Facebook to warn Virginia residents about the inclusions and provisions in the law that he considered bad. He also attached a short video to further buttress his points.

Katz believes that for cannabis to be legal, the state of Virginia should have provided a legal source and market for anyone to purchase pot. He added that with the provisions in the new law, residents will have to grow their plants themselves. Not everyone can put in the effort to grow their cannabis, hence they will likely be purchasing their product from drug dealers on the street or other illegal sources.

Katz has assured the residents in Chesterfield that maintaining public safety is his first and foremost duty.

In Henrico, only two arrests have been made. The remaining three arrests occurred in Richmond.


What this means

The significant reduction in the number of arrests shows that the new policy is what the public needs. The legislation is already living up to expectations and working in the same way cannabis legislation in other states does.

The uniformity of the post-legalization arrests, remarks, public comments and other observations indicate that the new law was carefully worded with all factors considered.

Jenn Michelle Pedini, the executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws expressed her delight with the latest statistics of cannabis-related arrests.


The change in laws has not been hitch-free

Most of the arrested individuals have claimed to have no idea about the details of the new law. They said they have no idea of what the law permits and doesn't permit.

At least ten of the 20 offenders caught in Chesterfield are between the ages of 16-20 years old. Luckily for them, this is a civil offense as they have been charged with underage possession.


Final Note

It would do a lot of good for the government to make publications that would clarify the law in simple terms for all to understand.





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