Tag Archives: Del. Bob Marshall

Catching up on old news

There are a few news items from the past year or so that I’ve found since starting this site, so in the interest of clearing my browser tabs out I’m going to post them so that we can move on to more current events.

In August, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe reiterated his support for medical marijuana, adding that he is not ready for full legalization and that any efforts would have to go through the General Assembly. The governor stated that the issue is not a priority that he will push for and that supporters need to talk to their state senator or delegate about getting anything done.

Let’s see him up on that.

A March poll by Connecticut’s Qunnipiac University finds overwhelming support by Virginia voters for medical marijuana, finding 83% support it. Respondents were split 46-48% in favor/in opposition of recreational marijuana. The poll shows broad support for medicial use by both Republicans and Democrats and the 18-29 and over 65 year old age groups. Approval of recreational is higher among Democrats and 18-29 year olds, and is opposed by a majority of Republicans and those over 65. Interestingly, only 39 percent of those polled admitted to having smoked marijuana.

Charlottesville’s local NBC29 WVIR affiliate aired this segment earlier this month about NORML’s efforts in the state. It has some choice quotes from Albemarle County Chief of Police Steve Sellers, who says that “this is the most effort that I’ve seen towards legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in my [32 year] career.” Of course Sellers is concerned about things from an enforcement perspective, and is glad to have the luxury of getting in front of things and preparing for things in a way that wasn’t achieved in Colorado.

We also found information about the Charlottesville city council that deserves mention. In early May 2012, legal advocacy group The Rutherford Institute sent a six page letter to city council members asking the city to ‘take the lead on ending the drug war’ and de-prioritize marijuana possession. Later that month, the council debated a resolution to that same effect, while eventually passing a final resolution to “ask state lawmakers to rethink marijuana laws” by a 3-2 vote. A year later an ordinance that would have taken jail time off the table for first time possession offenders failed 3-2.

An earlier post here mentioned Delegate Bob Marshall’s HB 684 as pending for the 2015 General Assembly session, which would remove language from the Code of Virginia which allows marijuana by prescription. It’s worth mentioning that since marijuana is a Schedule I drug, physicians are prohibited from prescribing the drug, and can only ‘recommend’ it. The bill is indeed dead, but I bring this up because of this article in the Charlottesville paper The Cavalier Daily, which has some great quotes from Del. Marshall, which I’ve consolidated.

“Drugs should only be taken if you’re sick[…] Folks … will lose their political liberties because they won’t have the mental moxie to fight the tyranny that is ever growing in our society right now[…] If you think smoking dope is going to give you the mental capacity you need to fight off the police state, think again[…] Look, you’ve got enough problems with kids drinking booze and falling off balconies.”

“Drugs should only be taken if you’re sick”, unless his bill passed.

The Associated Press reports that the Virginia Department of Forensic Science will no longer routinely process marijuana in misdemeanor cases. This is due to the backlog in processing controlled substances labs.

Outgoing US attorney general Eric Holder is ‘cautiously optimistic‘ about Washington and Colorado’s legalization efforts, says the DoJ will sue them if they don’t keep things in line.

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.