Senate majority leader Thomas Norment, R-James City County, at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., in February, 2017. (Steve Helber, Associated Press)

Virginia Senate majority leader proposes marijuana decriminalization

A State Crime Commission study determined that decriminalizing marijuana would prevent more than 10,000 arrests every year in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia lawmaker says he’s working on a bill to decriminalize marijuana.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday that Senate majority leader Tommy Norment does not support full legalization of the drug. But the Republican said possessing it would be a civil offense subject to a ticket or a fine.

Norment’s comments followed the release of a State Crime Commission study that said decriminalizing marijuana would prevent more than 10,000 arrests every year in Virginia.

The commission takes no position on changing the state’s marijuana laws. But the commission could vote on a recommendation to lawmakers later this year, setting up a likely debate in the 2018 legislative session.

Commission staff outlined the study on Monday. They said police arrested more than 133,000 people on first-offense marijuana charges in the last decade.

Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com