Sensible marijuana reform not on the agenda in Virginia
After the retirement of long-time marijuana reform advocate Harvey Morgan, and resignation of Alexandria Delegate David Englin, a new legislative advocate for marijuana reform was needed in the Virginia Legislature. Unfortunately, no one stepped up to the plate in 2014 to champion any reform. Please write your legislators and ask them to lead the charge next session. You can ask them to call for the state to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol, or to take a more modest reform such as citing and fining – rather than arresting and criminalizing – marijuana users.
Meanwhile, Del. Bob Marshall introduced a bill to repeal Virginia’s limited medical marijuana provisions. Fortunately, the bill failed to gain support, though it was never a serious threat. The medical cannabis law it would have repealed is ineffective because it relies on doctors “prescribing” marijuana. Doctors cannot legally “prescribe” marijuana under federal law; they must “recommend” it, as is the case in the 21 states and the District of Columbia that have functional medical marijuana programs. Nevertheless, the passage of Del. Marshall's bill would have been a symbolic loss to the movement.
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Learn more about Virginia's marijuana laws
Did you know that in Virginia, of the 23,402 marijuana-related arrests reported by state law enforcement in 2012, 89% were for mere possession? That same year, nearly half of all reported rapes and 80% of all burglaries were not solved. In Virginia, possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to 30 days of incarceration along with a $500 fine.
Although African Americans and whites use marijuana at nearly the same rate, the enforcement of marijuana laws has been far from equal. This report by the ACLU found that blacks are about three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites.
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