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New diversion program for marijuana offenses

Over the past several years, many states across the national have passed laws that have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Colorado led the way as the first state to do this and was quickly followed by all three west coast states. The movement has moved beyond the west and, today, even the District of Columbia allows legal use of recreational pot. For the time being, however, such use is still illegal in Virginia.

According to a report by The Washington Post, many people seeking political offices across the state are indicating their support for legalized recreational marijuana. In addition, other efforts are underway to ease the burden faced by people who are arrested for and charged with some drug offenses involving pot. The state has in place a program for diversion that may be available to some people accused of a first-time pot offense.

In the Commonwealth of Alexandria, however, a new diversion program is being launched and this one will have terms more acceptable to and favorable toward defendants. People eligible for this program may be charged with misdemeanor pot offenses and, unlike the state diversion program, they do have to enter a guilty plea in order to participate. They must perform some community service and a substance screening but will not be charged any court costs or other fees.

After they have successfully finished their probationary period, generally six to nine months, their case may be dismissed. There is also work being done to have the offense expunged eventually.