“I definitely want to accept the consequences for my own actions, but this kind of stepped beyond that because it affected my family and people close to me as well,” he said.
Simple tasks he once took for granted — like going to the grocery store, class or laundromat — became time consuming without the ability to drive.
“When you take that away from people, you completely handcuff them,” he said.
Jenn Michelle Pedini is the executive director of Virginia NORML. The organization works to reform marijuana laws.
“This bill will impact thousands of Virginians this year,” she said.
Pedini said about 22,000 people are arrested each year for marijuana possession in Virginia. For some, they don’t just lose their license.
“In a low-income community, 40 percent of defendants are likely to lose their jobs when they lose their license,” said Pedini.
She said access to a car is crucial.
“When a defendant is able to maintain their license, then they’re also able to complete their community service more effectively. They’re able to get to work, to get their children to school and to complete whatever is required in their sentence so that they can move on from this infraction.”
The law had bipartisan support.
“We’ve had this legislation multiple years now and it was really exciting this past session to have it introduced in both sides — in the Senate by a democrat and in the House by a republican,” said Pedini.
The law is set to go into effect July 1 — as long as Virginia does not lose federal funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation still has to make a ruling on that.
Pedini said other states that have implemented similar policies have not lost funding.