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Roanoke Co. Police anticipate increase in calls following marijuana legalization

Roanoke County Police uniform patch.
Roanoke County Police uniform patch.(WDBJ7)
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:00 PM EDT
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ROANOKE Co., Va. (WDBJ) - Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will become legal for Virginians 21 and up starting July 1.

However, the new law will not change the way Roanoke County officers police drugs and driving.

“Driving under the influence is that same crime that it is today,” said Chief Howard Hall. “There is no change in that, and people that choose to use marijuana have to understand that if they do that and then they drive, that’s a significant violation and has significant consequences.”

The new law will not allow marijuana use in public, either.

“There’s a large amount of confusion about what’s legal and what’s not,” said Hall. “Right now, people that have marijuana know that it’s not legal, so they’re less likely to use it openly in public for other people to see.”

Chief Hall expects that confusion will lead to an uptick in calls for his officers.

“We do have some workload concerns about that and we’ll have to prioritize those things appropriately, and the bottom line is we’re not going to delay our response to an emergency – someone who needs immediate assistance – because we’ve got another call for someone smoking weed,” said Hall.

The new law also allows Virginians to grow four marijuana plants per household.

Chief Hall recommends that anyone who plans to use marijuana educate themselves about the new law and what is legal, and what is not, so they can steer clear of any issues. Click here to learn more.

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