The Charlottesville City Council is urging the state of Virginia to reexamine their current marijuana laws, in particular their current rules that allow people who posses small amounts of weed to be arrested and jailed. This request comes after nearly an hour of debate and a 3-2 vote by the Council.
The resolution reads as follows:
(We) call on the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor of Virginia to revisit the sentencing guidelines that merit jail terms for simple possession, do away with rules that suppose intent to distribute without evidence and give due consideration to sponsored state bills that would decriminalize, legalize or regulate marijuana like alcohol.
About the purpose of the resolution, one member noted that “obviously, we don’t have the power to decriminalize marijuana, but I think it does send the message actually in support of those who can.”
Of the two people who did not support the decision, the reasons for the no vote seem to stem from the message that the resolution would send to the children of the area. Apparently, saying something should be a low police priority is the same as saying it is okay for children to do. I do not need to point out the faulty logic here, but I will note that marijuana is decriminalized in many states and that has not been proven to come at the cost of children’s health.
Charlottesville’s law enforcement also argues that marijuana enforcement already is a low priority, with only 113 arrests for possession in the last year. Still, that is probably 113 too many, as each count in the state of Virginia can receive up to 30 days in jail and/or $500 in fines. Subsequent convictions can increase the jail time to up to a year and the fines up to $2500. Sure, the police department can argue that the marijuana arrests make up only a small part of the cities total arrests (slightly more than 2%), but for those 113 times that people have been arrested, serious life-changing consequences can result.
Whether the state will listen to the town’s resolution or whether the police of Charlottesville will choose to obey it remains to be seen. But, it must be noted that sometimes small actions like this are what it takes to get the ball rolling for greater change that will hopefully come in the state of Virginia.
[Via The News & Advance]