Virginia Lawmakers Approve Bill Allowing Sentence Modification for Cannabis-Related Felonies

The Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill enabling sentence modification for individuals convicted of felony cannabis offenses, a move aligning with broader adult-use cannabis reforms and potentially impacting hundreds of prisoners and parolees/probationers in the state.

Full story after the jump.

The Virgnia House of Delegates on Monday passed a measure that would allow individuals convicted of felony cannabis-related offenses to have their sentences modified, WRIC reports. The measure had previously passed the Senate, by a narrow 20-19 vote, and moves next to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. 

According to Department of Corrections data, about 378 prisoners and approximately 1,229 people on parole or probation were serving time due to cannabis-related offenses as of Dec. 31, 2023. According to the bill’s financial impact statement, about 397 individuals in state custody would be eligible for sentence modification if the bill is signed into law.  

State Sen. Williams Graves (D), the bill sponsor, told the House subcommittee said as the state moves toward enacting adult cannabis use reforms “it is only right that we make right the charges for individuals, or those who are serving time or community service for these charges.” 

Under the proposal, individuals convicted only for cannabis-related offenses could have their sentences ended entirely, subject to the decision made at their hearings. Those with cannabis-related offenses convicted of another crime or crimes simultaneously could see their sentences reduced for some or all convictions, depending on the nature of the crimes; however, those who committed violent offenses will not be eligible for sentence reductions. 

Under the law, hearings for solely cannabis-related offenders would need to be scheduled by the locality’s circuit court by Jan. 1, 2025. For those with additional offenses, the hearings would have to be scheduled by April 1, 2025. These hearings will be scheduled automatically. 

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