Excerpted from JD Supra by McGuireWoods LLP

Virginia temporarily grabbed the media’s attention away from the coronavirus on May 21, 2020 when Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana under state law. While it remains unlawful in Virginia to possess marijuana even for personal use, such possession now will result in a civil penalty of no more than $25, rather than a criminal conviction subject to jail time. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2020.

The new law also prohibits employers from requiring job applicants to disclose information concerning any arrest, criminal charge or conviction for simple possession of marijuana. (The new law does not apply to distribution of or intent to distribute marijuana.) In addition to restricting employers’ questions during the hiring process, the law also gives applicants a statutory right not to disclose such information to their prospective employers. Specifically, the law allows job applicants — when answering questions about arrests, criminal charges and convictions — to exclude references to or information about simple possession of marijuana. The law also prohibits educational institutions from demanding the same information from applicants for admission.

Employers who utilize a third-party consumer reporting agency to conduct criminal history checks of applicants may likewise be precluded from learning about simple marijuana possession arrests, charges and convictions. The new law provides that such information maintained in the Virginia Central Criminal Records Exchange will not be open for public inspection, subject to certain statutory exceptions.
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