State Sen. Adam Ebbin wants to change Virginia’s strict marijuana laws. He prefiled a bill in October to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession to a civil violation and fine rather than a drug crime with the related penalties and stigmas.
A new poll suggests that a majority of Virginians stand behind Ebbin in his goal.
Public Policy Polling (PPP) released results on Tuesday from a January survey asking how Virginians feel about marijuana reform issues. Strong majorities indicated support for medical marijuana for the seriously ill and removing criminal penalties related to marijuana for personal use. Full marijuana legalization received less than majority support, but more than those in opposition with 49%.
“Virginians are fed up with failed marijuana prohibition policies,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release. The national marijuana advocacy group commissioned PPP to conduct the poll.
Yeung said voters don’t support imposing criminal penalties on sick people and she believes the policy of strict prohibition has caused more harm than good. While no comprehensive medical marijuana bills have been filed, decriminalization would benefit medical users as well.
NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri posted a response to the poll on the group’s national blog. He took the opportunity to trumpet the results and encourage Virginia voters to contact their representatives.
“It is time that our state officials pursued a policy on marijuana that was ‘Smart on crime and smart for Virginia.'” Altieri wrote. He also used the opportunity to point out billboard and lobbying efforts in support of decriminalization bill.
Ebbins’ bill, S.B. 686, will be formally offered when the Virginia Senate convenes next Wednesday. It will be referred to the Committee for Courts of Justice for further consideration.
[The PPP survey was conducted Jan. 2-4, 2015 with a sampling of 884 registered Virginia voters. The margin of error was 3.3% and the full report can be found here: Virginia Survey Results.]