Virginia “Ban the Box” Law for Simple Marijuana Possession Takes Effect July 1

Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On May 21, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed “Ban the Box” legislation into law – House Bill 972/Senate Bill 2 – to prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose information related to past criminal charges for simple marijuana possession. The law will take effect on July 1, 2020.

The new “Ban the Box” law will decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and make that offense punishable by a fine of no more than $25. In addition, HB 972/SB 2 will ensure that convictions for simple marijuana possession will not be reflected on the criminal records of individuals.

Most prior simple marijuana possession charges will no longer be open to public inspection and disclosure, with some law enforcement exceptions. However, violations for possessing marijuana while operating a commercial motor vehicle will be reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and added to driving records.

Under HB 972/SB 2, employers, educational institutions, and state and local governments will be prohibited from requiring job applicants to disclose information related to simple marijuana possession charges in any application, interview, or during any other part of the hiring, admission, or licensing process.

Despite the fact that marijuana is illegal at the federal level, several states and cities in America that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana have also passed laws that mitigate the impact against job applicants that fail drug testing with positive results for marijuana, and this trend has continued in 2020.

The Ban the Box movement helps ex-offenders by eliminating the criminal history question on job applications and delaying this question until later on in the hiring process. As of June 2020, 35 U.S. states and more than 150 cities and counties have passed Ban the Box laws, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Ban the Box laws and second chance programs that help give ex-offenders in the United States with a prior criminal record a chance to find work after leaving prison are spreading in 2020, according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2020 compiled by Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a complimentary white paper titled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” and also a Ban the Box Resource Page that contains an interactive map updated with the latest Ban the Box laws. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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