Manassas delegate’s bill would legalize marijuana, expand medical use of the drug

Delegate Lee Carter (D-50, Bristow, Manassas) filed legislation to legalize marijuana for those who are aged 21 and older.

The bill, HB87, will go before the General Assembly in Richmond, which convenes on Jan. 8, and states:

Marijuana; legalization of simple marijuana possession; penalties. Eliminates criminal penalties for possession of marijuana for persons who are 21 years of age or older. The bill also decriminalizes marijuana possession for persons under 21 years of age and provides a civil penalty of no more than $100 for possession of (i) two and one-half ounces or less of marijuana or (ii) 12 or fewer marijuana plants and a civil penalty of no more than $500 for possession of more than (a) two and one-half ounces of marijuana or (b) 12 marijuana plants.

Under current law, a first offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum jail sentence of 30 days, and subsequent offenses are a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill also modifies several other criminal penalties related to marijuana.

The bill establishes a regulatory scheme for the regulation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana manufacturing facilities, marijuana secure transporters, marijuana testing facilities, retail marijuana stores, and marijuana microbusinesses by the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The bill imposes an additional tax of 10 percent on retail marijuana and retail marijuana products sold by retail marijuana stores and microbusinesses and directs the first $20 million of such revenues, after expenses of the Board are paid, to the Veterans Treatment Fund, established in the bill.

The remaining tax receipts will be distributed to the localities in which the businesses operate, toward the state’s share of Standards of Quality basic aid payments, and to the Commonwealth Mass Transit Fund.

The bill also expands the legal medical uses of marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol from only cancer and glaucoma to any use to alleviate the symptoms of any diagnosed condition or disease determined by the prescribing doctor to benefit from the use of such substance.

Carter was elected to his second two-year term on November 5.

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