Upcoming General Assembly Session

The Virginia General Assembly will be starting their 2015 legislative session the second week in January.  This will be a short 30 day session with which they have to deal with all legislative matters, and there are a number of bills that have been introduced that deal with drug policy that we should mention.

SB 686 Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession.

This bill, introduced by State Senator Adam Ebbin of the 30th District, would remove the 30 day jail sentence for simple marijuana possession and reduce the fine from $500 to $100. It also allows for defense from distribution charges by presuming that someone who cultivates up to six plants does so for personal reasons, and also removes the civil forfeiture penalties from quantities under a pound. This legislation has been referred to the Committee for the Courts of Justice.

HB 684 Marijuana; prescribing, dispensing, etc., as medicine.

Most people do not realize that Virginia already has medical marijuana laws on the books. The Code of Virginia 18.2-251.1 allows for the possession of marijuana by prescription for the treatment of cancer or glaucoma. This bill from Delegate Bob Marshall of the 13th District, would repeal this provision as well as add additional limits on the ability of physicians to prescribe other controlled substances. This legislation was introduced in the 2014 session but never made it out of the Committee for the Courts of Justice. It does appear that it is still active, and may have a chance to come up during the new session.   [edit: The bill was passed by and would need to be reintroduced to be considered for the 2015 session.]

HB 1277 Industrial hemp production and manufacturing.

This bill from Delegate Joeseph Yost of the 12th District, would allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp.

The full list of pending legislation is available on this page at the Marijuana Policy Project site.

The VMLP’s focus for this upcoming Assembly session will be on SB686, as it will have the most impact Virginia drug policy. Our focus will be to pressure members of the Senate Courts of Justice committee to pass the bill up to the larger assembly for vote. We will be reaching out to the members of the committee to gather their positions on the bill and help support Senator Ebbin with his efforts. Should the bill pass committee, we will then have the task of helping push this legislation through the State Senate, the House of Delegates, and then on to Governor McAuliffe.

My next post will be on the Committee and their individual members; in the meantime please show your support for Senator Ebbin by sending him an email and letting him know that you stand behind SB 686.

Announcing the Virginia Marijuana Legalization Project

Hello fellow Virginians,

Welcome to the home of the Virginia Marijuana Legalization Project. I have created this site to help coordinate with like minded citizens of the Commonwealth to help us bring about change in our great state. Change has been sweeping across our nation for the past few years, and while I feel that legalization is inevitable, I am no longer content to sit by and wait passively for this to happen. I am creating this organization today to actively call on our elected representatives to support us in this endeavor

The Virginia state assembly will be reconvening in January, and there are already several measures on the ballot that affect drug policy in Virginia. Our aim is to mobilize Virgina’s citizens to pressure their representatives to support  bills which will allow Virginians the freedom to use Marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, and to block any legislation that will prohibit the use of marijuana or increase penalties for its possession.

I am not advocating full scale commercialization of Marijuana at this time. There are too many factors  which makes commercialization problematic, most notably the hypocrisy of allowing corporations to profit from the sale of pot after years of prohibition has ruined the lives of so many minority youths and community. We are instead looking toward the recent legislation passed in Washington DC as a model for our goals, namely the decriminalization of the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use.  I feel that this is a good starting point for us to aim for, with the understanding that additional measures will come later.

I hope that you will join me. We are looking for anyone that can help us, so please email vmlp@vmlp.org if you would like to contribute.  We will need help writing articles, contacting elected officials, and driving our social and traditional media campaigns, so please contact us if you would like to help. We have less than 60 days before the upcoming General Assembly meeting convenes, so we have to act fast to make sure that we have an impact in 2015.

Thank you,
Michael Wade