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New law scraps criminal charges for simple possession of pot in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says the state will become “a more fair, just, and equal place” now that simple possession of marijuana will be decriminalized.

Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed the decriminalization legislation into law over the weekend.

The new law scraps criminal charges for simple possession of marijuana and creates a $25 civil penalty. It also creates a work group to study the impact of legalization of marijuana and eventually release a report on the matter.

Supporters have argued the measure is needed in part because African Americans are disproportionately charged with drug crimes. A measure to legalize marijuana failed earlier this year.

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“Decriminalization is an incredibly important first step, and one that many thought we may never see in Virginia, but we cannot stop until we have legal and regulated adult use,” Herring said in a statement.