Senate passes bill allowing marijuana charge to be expunged

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Senate has passed a bill that would allow people charged for the first time with possession of marijuana to later have the charge expunged.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the vote Monday on Republican Sen. Tommy Norment's bill was 38-2.

Norment previously said he was in favor of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana but opted not to introduce a bill that went that far, saying he didn't think it could pass.

He said the bill that advanced Monday "makes a substantial step forward."

The bill would require an expungement fee. That money would pay for a database of those who had charges expunged, so people couldn't use the benefit more than once.

Current law provides that the possession of marijuana may be punished by confinement in jail for not more than 30 days and subject to a fine of not more than $500

The measure must still pass the House before it goes to the governor.

You can read the bill in full here.