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Breaking down state marijuana laws

A look at the history of marijuana decriminalization by state.

When it comes to the legalization of marijuana there’s a lot of information to process.

The laws vary state to state, they’re constantly changing, and in some places, like in Virginia, they’re not even clear to the general public.

While decriminalization in the United States began in 1973, it wasn’t until 1996 that things really started moving.

That year California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, paving the way for other states to pass similar legislation --- eight, in fact, within four years of that vote.

Fast forward to 2012 when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana.

In Virginia, real movement didn’t start until 2016 when a limited medical marijuana program was introduced.

Two years later, in February 2018, that program was expanded with the passing of two new legislative bills, but they still don’t make medical marijuana legal, technically.

According to the terms of the program, patients would avoid any penalty for possessing cannabis oil with a special certificate from their doctor.

In July a bill was pre-filed that would decriminalize simple possession in Virginia, getting rid of the potential for 30 days in jail if caught with half an ounce or less.

The General Assembly will vote on that bill during its regular session which starts in January.