Category Archives: Virginia Assembly

2017 Legislative Session

There are 3 bills dealing with marijuana up for consideration during the upcoming General Assembly session:

SB 841 Marijuana; possession or distribution for medical purposes, affirmative defense for treatment: This one needs a bit of explaining. An ‘affirmative defense’ is defined as “a fact or set of facts other than those alleged by the plaintiff or prosecutor which, if proven by the defendant, defeats or mitigates the legal consequences of the defendant’s otherwise unlawful conduct.” This bill, from Arlington/Fairfax State Senator Barbara Favola (D), would grant an affirmative defense against possession charges for people who have been prescribed cannabidol oil or THC-A oil for treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Tourette syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Crohn’s disease, or complex regional pain syndrome.

SB 831 Marijuana; manufacture or possession, accommodation to another individual, penalty: From Republican Senator Bill DeSteph Jr., this bill would reduce some possession penalties from a felony to a class 1 misdemeanor. The language of the bill has a lot of language about intent and other exclusions, but it is notable to see this coming from the GOP.

SB 784 Marijuana offenses; driver’s license forfeiture, etc.: This bill from Alexandria Democrat Adam Ebbin would modify the existing law that suspends a person’s driver’s license when convicted of a drug offense. Ebbin’s amendment would remove this revocation for those placed on probation for simple possession.

Bill Allowing Medical Marijuana Oil Goes to Governor

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 Senate Passes Marijuana Reform Law, Allows Oil for Epileptics

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.

Bill for cannabis oil production advances in General Assembly

Virginia passed a law for the medicinal use of CBD oil for the use of epilepsy, now they have to figure out a way for people to get it legally.

 In 2015, Smith and other families successfully lobbied state legislators to allow the medicinal use of cannabis oil to help treat severe seizures caused by epilepsy that pharmaceuticals cannot cure.

Smith’s daughter Haley had 1,200 seizures before she began using cannabis oil.  Smith said Haley’s seizures have drastically decreased since last year.

Smith and Beth Collins, a mother from Northern Virginia who’s child has similar medical problems, are back at the General Assembly again this year pushing for legislation that would create and allow a regulatory process for production of cannabis oil in Virginia.  Senate bill 701 would make it easier for families with children who need cannabis oil to get it Virginia.

Bill for cannabis oil production advances in General Assembly

State Lawmakers Debate Medical Marijuana

Advocates of medical marijuana scored another small victory this week in Richmond.

A Senate committee voted to allow cancer patients to use an oil derived from the cannabis plant – a medication that can already be used, legally, in patients with epilepsy.  Studies suggest cannabidiol may help to fight breast, colon, brain, lung and other cancers while reducing the side effects of conventional chemotherapy.

2016 Virginia General Assembly update

It’s 2016! A new Virginia General Assembly session is coming up this month, and is a new opportunity to make our voices heard and demand change in the State’s marijuana laws and end the war on pot!

Senator Adam Ebbin of Alexandria has resubmitted last year’s decriminalization legislation, SB686, for this year’s session, as SB104. We’ve covered SB686 extensively on this site, the two bills share the same goal of removing the criminal penalties for simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and make it a civil fine. Ebbin’s bills both place a limit on civil forfeiture for the sale or distribution of marijuana to quantities of more than one pound. SB104 appears to be more tightly focused than SB686, and has dropped language regarding personal use defenses for growing pot, as well changes to penalties for paraphernalia and possession by a prisoner. Sen. Ebbin appears to limiting the scope of the bill this year in the hopes that it will remove objections to some of the other, less critical portions in order to strengthen the core decriminalization effort.

In support of this bill, we are reopening our popular petition in support of SB686 and are editing it to update the new legislation. SB104 is similar enough in scope that we believe that those that supported SB686 should not have any issues voicing their support behind the new bill.

The challenge remains the same as last year. SB104, like its predecessor, has been placed before the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice, co-chaired by Senators Tommy Norment Jr. of Williamsburg and Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg. Both Senators have staunchly refused to support pro-marijuana legislation and sided with other Republican members of the committee to leave SB686 dead in the sub-chamber, not allowing it to be voted on by the main Senate body. In fact the challenge may be even greater this year as Democratic Fairfax Senator Linda Puller did not run for re-election and it remains to be seen who will take her seat on the Committee. No matter who takes up the last spot, we should demand that this group of 14 people allow the bill to move forward and be voted on by the Senate as a whole!

Also worth mentioning is that Republican Senator Ryan McDougal, who is also a member of the Committee for Courts of Justice, has introduced a bill, SB22, to allow people to expunge certain charges and convictions from their records. The bill allows people convicted of marijuana possession and some alcohol-related charges before their 21st birthday to have them removed off of their record if 5 years have passed since they’ve completed the terms of sentencing and probation. This bill will allow young people who have gotten caught up in the criminal justice system for marijuana charges to clean their record and have a clean shot when filling out job applications. We here at the VMLP support SB22 and encourage others to voice their support, but we would also encourage Sen. McDougal to support other legislation such as SB104 to prevent charging individuals for simple marijuana possession in the first place.

We would like to remind everyone that Lobby Day is coming up the Thursday after next, Janurary 14, which is when our friends over at NORML encourage everyone to go meet with their elected representatives and push for marijuana reform. People ask when we’re going to see change in Virginia, and this is the single most important thing they can do. Legislators in this state seem to take a wait-and-see conservative approach when it comes to most things, including pot, and we need to meet with them face-to-face and confront their outdated and ill-informed attitudes with respect to cannabis. So please, register with NORML and make plans to travel to Richmond and meet with your representatives. Please, especially if your Senators are Norment, Obenshain, or any of the other Senators that voted against SB686 last year. Change will only come with our constant and unrelenting pressure.

Godspeed and Happy 2016!

General Assembly Update

The Virginia General Assembly continues its 2015 session, and here’s a rundown of what’s happened thus far:

SB 686, Sen. Adam Ebbin’s bill, which would have decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, was passed by indefinitely by the Senate Committee for Courts and Justice, in spite of several recent polls that show a majority of Virginians support it.
The 9-5 vote was by party line, which Democratic Senators Puller, Lucas, Edwards, McEachin, and Saslaw voting in favor, and Republican Senators Reeves, Garrett, Stanley, Vogel, McDougle, Norment, Obenshain, Stuart, and Chafin opposing.

We worked very hard in support of this bill, gathering some 2800 supporters on our petition, but the Senators have refused to listen. We can only hope that they be held accountable this fall, as 2015 is an election year.

Now for the good news.

SB 1235 just passed the Senate today 37-1. This bill will allow the use of Cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil for the treatment of epilepsy. No word yet on who the one vote against was yet.

HB 1445 has passed through the House Committee for Courts of Justice and will be up for a vote before the full House. This bill will amend Virginia’s current medical marijuana laws, allowing patients to possess pot with a doctors recommendation, and adding epilepsy to the list of allowed ailments along with cancer and glaucoma. [update 2/9/14: It looks like we missed this, but on 2/4 the House committee actually put forward a substitute that seems to match SB 1235. This bill would not allow for the use of marijuana, only cannabis oil, and would have no effect on the glaucoma and cancer patients. ]

HB 1605, Sen. Kenneth Plum’s bill which would make medical marijuana available for all ailments, is still in limbo in the House Committee for Courts and Justice. Hopes aren’t high for this bill, but we’ll continue to watch this one and update you accordingly.

Industrial hemp has cleared the House and Senate and will be sent to Gov. McAuliffe’s desk for signing. The bill clears the way for hemp cultivation in the state when the Federal government finally lifts the ban on hemp.


Deja Vu: New medical marijuana bill introduced in House of Delegates

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.

Poll: Majority of Virginia Voters Support Marijuana Decriminalization

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:

New Medicial Marijuana Bill Introduced in House of Delegates

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