We need more positive stories like this in Virginia media.
Caleb Thomas used to have seizures from epilepsy almost daily, some so severe he landed in the hospital.
But during the past year, the 13-year-old Virginia Beach boy’s seizures have dropped by half, along with his hospitalizations – an improvement he and his mother attribute to a controversial treatment: marijuana oil extract.
Senate Bill 701 passed in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly. The bill allows for the eventual production and distribution of cannabis oils, which supporters say can ease conditions for people with severe epilepsy.
The bill now goes to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s desk for his signature
State Sen. Louise Lucas has been stymied in an attempt to legalize derivatives of the marijuana plant for treating cancer.
Lucas’ legislation, which sailed through the Senate on a 38-2 vote this month, was rejected Monday by a House of Delegates subcommittee after almost no debate, halting its progress for the year.
The Virginia Senate passed a bill that will allow the production and manufacturing of two different marijuana oils for patients with epilepsy. It’s called the Medical Marijuana Program Improvement bill.
Last year, two bills gave epilepsy patients a defense if found in possession of cannabis oils. But, the law provided no way for patients to actually obtain the oils without breaking federal and state laws.
That’s where this latest bill would change things.
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.
We’ve talked about Virginia’s medical marijuana laws before, however we wanted to post again to clear up some confusion since information on the subject isn’t well known.
Currently, Code of Virginia § 18.2-251.1 states, in part:
No person shall be prosecuted under § 18.2-250 or § 18.2-250.1 for the possession of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol when that possession occurs pursuant to a valid prescription issued by a medical doctor in the course of his professional practice for treatment of cancer or glaucoma.
This law was passed in 1979. Why then, aren’t there medical dispensaries all throughout the state? It’s because the statute uses the term “valid prescription” and the current Schedule 1 status of marijuana prevents doctors from prescribing it, making the law void. For this reason, most medical marijuana statues use the word “recommend” instead.
It is worth noting that this law has survived challenges in 1998 and 2014, but until the current wording is changed or marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug is changed, this law will have no effect.
While there are no bills on the currently on the schedule for the 2015 session that would change any of this, Senator Adam Ebbin’s SB 686 would decriminalize possession of an once or less, and is our best hope for advancing legalization this year in Virginia. Please sign our Change.org petition to help make sure this bill makes it out of committee and to the Senate floor for a full vote by all Senate members.