No Republican in the General Assembly voted for a coming law on July 1 that will legalize possession of an ounce of marijuana in Virginia.
Beyond the legalization, their list of objections includes what they say are light penalties for people possessing much more than an ounce of the drug.
"You can have up to one pound with only a $25 fine," Del. Kirk Cox, a GOP candidate for governor, said during an April 7 radio interview on WRVA in Richmond.
Let’s put this in perspective. There’s a lot of debate over how many joints can be made from an ounce. The Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal has estimated about 84. A 2011 academic study estimated about 43. So according to these widely cited estimates, there’s somewhere between 688 and 1,344 joints in a pound - a large personal stash.
We wondered whether Cox is right that possession of a pound of pot will be punished with "only a $25 fine" when the law takes effect on July 1. Turns out, he is.
The law establishes anyone 21 or older can legally possess as much as one ounce. It says anyone having more than that is "subject to a civil penalty of no more than $25." Anyone possessing more than one pound in public could be found guilty of a felony and face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The law is silent on whether a person could have more than a pound in their home.
Marijuana already has been legalized in 15 states. Virginia and two other states have passed laws that will go into effect midyear. Most of the states allow possession of an ounce or less without penalty.