A new poll from Christopher Newport University of registered voters from Virginia showed that an overwhelming percentage of respondents favored decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and legalizing medical marijuana in the state. Decriminalizing marijuana removes criminal charges for possessing small amounts and instead would result in a $100 fine. Marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 23 states, and parents with ill children are among those lobbying the Virginia legislature to permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state.
According to a Christopher Newport University survey released Tuesday, 71 percent of registered Virginia voters support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, compared to 26 percent who oppose it. Sixty-nine percent support legalizing medical marijuana in the state, while 29 percent oppose.
The poll comes days after Democratic state Sen. Adam Ebbin introduced a bill to decriminalize the possession of less than a half an ounce of marijuana, for which a first-time offender now faces jail time, a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine. Ebbin’s bill would get rid of the criminal charge and make the penalty a $100 fine.
Thousands of people, including young children with epilepsy and cancer patients, have benefitted from the use of marijuana to ease their symptoms. For some patients, this is a last resort treatment.
Currently, marijuana is defined by the DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance, which is a higher classification than cocaine and the same level as heroin. There is a campaign by the American Academy of Pediatrics requesting that the DEA reschedule marijuana to Schedule II. This move would lift some restrictions and promote research on the drug.