Virginia grassroots marijuana advocacy group called “Decriminalize Norfolk” marched into Norfolk to peacefully lobby local and state lawmakers about decriminalizing marijuana. The Sheriff of Norfolk says that there are currently 86 prisoners in the city jail that are costing $1.8M per year to tax payers. The advocacy group, that is comprised of mostly millennials, wants to decriminalize marijuana first, then move towards a more progressive marijuana policy. Do you think more bible belt states will be changing their marijuana laws or will they stick to their conservative views for years to come?
‘Decriminalize Norfolk,’ a grassroots group aiming to educate people about marijuana laws, met Monday to hash out a plan for lobbying local and state lawmakers ahead of next year’s General Assembly.
Austin Burns says he’s been arrested three times for possessing small amounts of marijuana. He’s paid fines, went to jail and lost his license. He wants the public to know that pot smokers are not bad people.
‘Decriminalize Norfolk’ and its members are in favor of laws that would not criminally charge first time marijuana offenders; instead, make them pay a fine out of court.
Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe says 86 inmates are currently being held at the city jail solely for possession of marijuana. McCabe says it costs the city $58.69 per inmate, per day. That means the city spends at least $1.8 million a year to house marijuana offenders.
“Let’s look at this data that’s out there and let’s see how it’s really impacting our judicial system and costing taxpayers money,” said Smigiel. “Norfolk has been trying to be the leader on attracting millennials to the city, so I think you have a very open-minded council who is willing to have these conversations.”
Opponents argue marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs and decriminalization would increase drug use.