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 has 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 has introduced a bill to repeal Virginia’s limited medical marijuana provisions. The passage of Del. Marshall’s bill would be a symbolic loss to the movement. The medical marijuana law it would repeal 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 20 states and the District of Columbia, which have functional medical marijuana programs.
If and when legislation is introduced in Virginia, make sure you’re subscribed to our email alerts and you’ll be the first to know.
Learn more about Virginia's marijuana laws
Did you know that in Virginia, of the 22,024 marijuana-related arrests reported by state law enforcement in 2011, 90% were for 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.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Virginia, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.