Last weekend the Virginia State Senate Committee on Education and Health convened a hearing on SB 1235, a bill from Alexandria’s Sen. David Mardsen, which would allow for the use of cannabidiol and THC-A oil for the treatment of epilepsy. Several families were on hand to present testimony at the hearing, including Lisa Smith, who’s daughter Haley actually had a seizure before the legislators, and Beth Collins, who had to leave the state with her daughter Jennifer to seek medical marijuana in Colorado. Mrs. Collins told the legislator that cannabis oil give her daughter a better quality of life than the other medications that are available to her, which have harsh side effects.
These hearings follow the news that the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia supports SB 1235 and HB 1445, which we have previously covered here. An article from EFVA executive director Suzanne Bischoff appeared on the Augusta Free Press last week, advocating for changes to the Code of Virginia and steps by the State Health Department to help make this plant available to those that need it and to further research of marijuana’s beneficial health effects.
No, this is not a repeat post, this is an entirely new bill from the 36th District’s Kenneth Plum. Regular readers of this blog already know about the current medical marijuana law in Virginia, which requires a federally-prohibited prescription for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma, and is effectively null and void for all intents and purposes. Earlier this month, Del. Dave Albo introduced HB 1445 to change the prescription requirement to a ‘recommendation’, and added epilepsy to the list of allowed ailments. This new bill, HB 1605 from Del. Plum would also change the language of the bill to protect those acting with a medical recommendation, but would take the additional step of removing the restriction on allowed ailments and would open up medicinal use for virtually any ailment.
We have to say that we like this bill much better, and hope that with Virginia voters overwhelming support of medical marijuana, this bill can gain passage through the General Assembly during the new session which started today.
Thanks to everyone for your support thus far. Our petition has under 250 supporters to go for us to reach our goal!
If you can make it to Richmond next Friday, the 16th of January, please consider coming to Richmond with us and our friends at VANORML for Lobby Day 2015. We will be meeting with our State Representatives to help show our support for marijuana decriminalization, medicinal use, and hemp farming. Please visit the Lobby Day page and register if you can make it.
In other news, VA NORML have raised over $900 to put up a pro-decriminalization billboard up adjacent to Route 360 in Richmond
Virginia Tech’s WVTF reporter Sandy Hausman has a nice 5 part series on Marijuana Reforms in Virginia. Other parts can be found amongst her archives here
Delegate Kaye Korys is one of the patrons of SB 686, and she’s written up a bit on the Falls Church News-Press as to why she’s supporting the bill.
Virginia isn’t the only state considering marijuana legislation in 2015, we’ve put together a list of news and opinion articles from around the country for you:
Arizona lawmaker proposes legalizing pot
Indiana lawmakers give up push to decriminalize, focus on medical efforts
Kansas: Marijuana reform petition presented again
Kentucky House speaker to file medical marijuana bill
Maine – At least four bills planned on marijuana use
Marijuana legalization in Ohio — it’s not ‘if’ or ‘when,’ it’s ‘how’: Rob Ryan (opinion)
Legalize marijuana in Tennessee
Texas Is the Next Big Test for Legal Weed
The Marijuana Policy Project has posted news about a recent Public Policy Polling Survey of 884 registered Virginia voters conducted last week that shows majority support for the changes being proposed in the upcoming General Assembly session. The poll shows that 3 out of 5 voters support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession like Sen. Adam Ebbin’s SB 686 advocates. The poll also shows overwhelming support for changes to the medical marijuana statues that Del. Dave Albo’s HB 1445 aims to make. The poll also shows slight support for regulating cannabis like alcohol is.
The full poll can be found here: http://www.mpp.org/states/virginia/VirginiaResults.pdf
We’ve recently written about Virginia’s existing medical marijuana law, and how it is effectively null as it requires a prescription from a doctor, which is not allowed under the Federal Schedule 1 classification that pot is now under. Delegate Dave Albo of Springfield is trying to change this. His bill, HB 1445, changes the law so that it is valid with a recommendation from a doctor. The current law applies only to the treatment of cancer and glaucoma; Del. Albo’s bill also adds epilepsy to the list of allowed ailments.
Virginia Delegate Albo proposes bill to allow medical marijuana to threat a third syndrome