We covered the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session previously, today we’ve dug through Virginia’s Legislative Information System to put together a selected list of proposed changes to the State’s marijuana laws over the past few years.
Gloucester Delegate Harvey B. Morgan, a pharmacist for more than 3 decades, introduced HB 1134, which aimed to decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana, replacing criminal fines with civil ones and removing mandatory sentences for distribution. This bill never made it out of the Criminal subcommitte of the Committee for Courts of Justice, where it was passed by indefinitely.
Del. Morgan also introduced HB 1136, which provided for the prescription of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Prescriptions are currently allowed for cancer and glaucoma; this legislation would have removed those restrictions. This bill was tabled in the Courts of Justice’s Criminal subcommittee.
The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman wrote a short article about Del. Morgan and the two bills and the general sense of amusement that surrounded the matter.
Del. Morgan continued to push for decriminalization in the General Assembly the following year with HB 1443, which was similar to HB 1134. RawStory covered it, pointing to an article in Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress, which noted that Virginia police made 19,764 arrests for marijuana offenses in 2009, and makes some great arguments for marijuana law reform. HB 1443 died the same death as HB 1134, passed by indefinitely in the Criminal subcommitte of the Committee for Courts of Justice.
Del. Morgan did not run for re-election in 2011, and retired from the General Assembly after representing Gloucester for 32 years.
2011 also saw a glut of bills regarding the prohibition of synthetic marijuana, including passage of SB 745, which banned synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts. The bill’s sponsor, then Senator Mark R. Herring, is now the Attorney General of Virginia.
Alexandria’s Del. David L. Englin introduced HJ 139, requesting the Governor to petition the DEA for rescheduling of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. The resolution was referred to the Committee on Rules and tabled by voice vote
Englin also introduced HJ 140, asking for a study on the impact to the State of legalization and sale of marijuana, to include selling it through Virginia’s ABC stores. This legislation was assigned to the Committee on Rules sub committee for Studies, and was also tabled.
Del. Elgin resigned from his seat in August of 2012 after admitting to an extramarital affair.
While the LIS has several hundred references to marijuana, none of bills referenced appear to deal with it directly.
So what does all this mean for SB 686 in this upcoming session? My take is that it likely has a slim chance of making it out of committee. For our next post we will be taking a closer look at the current and past members of the Senate Courts of Justice committee to see if we can gather any information about them and how they may act this time around. Hopefully we we be able to identify those members that will be most likely to be swayed by public action, which we can use to coordinate with other advocates.