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Virginia prosecutor to stop prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk’s top prosecutor says his office will no longer be prosecuting cases of misdemeanor marijuana possession. 

Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood said in a letter on Jan. 3 his office, which already does not prosecute these cases, will dismiss or withdraw any other cases which include marijuana possession that fall under their scope.

Underwood’s letter — addressed to city and state leaders, judges and criminal justice colleagues — provided an overview for directives prosecutors in Underwood’s office will follow in the new year.

The directives outlined in Underwood’s letter also included bail in felony and misdemeanor cases and sentences in prostitution cases. The full letter can be read at this link.

Underwood’s position comes as Virginia lawmakers are again considering decriminalization of marijuana. Democratic state Sen. Adam Ebbin submitted a bill for the upcoming General Assembly session to decriminalize simple marijuana possession.

The bill would change the first offense penalty from a jail sentence of up to 30 days and a maximum $500 fine to a maximum civil penalty of $50.

The General Assembly’s new session starts Jan. 9.

Norfolk’s city council endorsed the decriminalization of simple possession when it released its 2019 legislative agenda last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.