Last Prisoner Project Calls on Virginia to Prioritize Criminal Justice Measures through SB 696

UPDATE: Senate Bill 696 pass the Virginia General Assembly Appropriations Committee and will now head to the a full floor vote. This will be the last stop before the bill heads to the Governor’s desk to become law! Stay up-to-date with us as we help push SB 696 across the finish line.


BREAKING: Senate Bill 696, a cannabis sentence modification bill, was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by the Senate Committee on Courts of Justice with a vote of 12-3. The bill now heads to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.

Thanks to Senator Angelia Williams Graves and Chairman Scott Surovell for their leadership.

LPP has worked with Marijuana Justice and various state agencies since 2021 to create a new mechanism to right-size the sentences of Virginians still serving time for cannabis-related offenses.

Thank you to Marijuana Justice, Nolef Turns, the Virginia NAACP, NORML, the Virginia Student Power Network, The New Majority Virginia, Rise for Youth, and all the members of the CannaJustice Coalition for their support and testimony.

If you believe criminal sentences handed down during prohibition need to be reevaluated in light of legalization, read more in our testimony below and in
Marijuana Moment, then contact your elected officials today.


Last Prisoner Project Calls on Virginia to Prioritize Criminal Justice Measures in SB 696

February 16, 2024

Dear Members of the House Committee,

When a state legalizes adult-use cannabis, it is acknowledging that public interest has shifted on the criminalization of cannabis. The magnitude of this shifting perception is clear in the landscape of national legalization, as adult-use cannabis is now legal in 24 states. However, simply repealing the prohibition of cannabis is insufficient: millions of individuals across the U.S. still bear the lifelong burden of having a cannabis record, and tens of thousands are actively serving sentences for cannabis-related convictions. 

Over the last few years, The Last Prisoner Project (LPP) and Marijuana Justice have worked to provide evidence-based policies that will ensure that retroactive relief is provided for those who have been criminalized by cannabis. In 2021, LPP and MJVA presented to the Virginia Cannabis Oversight Commission about the importance of a state-initiated sentence modification process for those who continue to suffer from criminal convictions and sentences as a result of prohibition. Since then, we have continued to provide technical assistance to various stakeholders based on national best practices and evidence-based policies.

Sentence Modification is a critical piece of legalizing the right way, with accountability to the origins of prohibition. The government must address prohibition-era convictions by resentencing individuals still incarcerated for behavior the state has changed its stance on.

Without this bill before this committee today, Virginians will lack any meaningful access to relief, as there is currently no mechanism for individuals to have their cannabis sentences reviewed in light of legalization. Prohibition may be in Virginia’s past, but redressing the harms it created must be part of the Commonwealth’s future.

We strongly support SB 696, and we urge this committee to do the same. 

We thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.


Last Prisoner Project Calls on Virginia to Prioritize Criminal Justice Measures in SB 696

January 31, 2024

Thank you Mr Chairman and members of the Committee,

The Last Prisoner Project and Marijuana Justice support this bill [as amended]

Based on our experience working with states throughout the nation to implement similar sentence modification processes, we believe the language in SB 696 is well-primed to ensure justice is workable, efficient, and implementable.

We applaud Senator Williams Graves for introducing this bill and this committee for taking up the legislation.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

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