Virginia General Assembly passes reforms; they now await governor action
Last update: March 7, 2017
The Virginia General Assembly’s short session came to a close on February 25, after passing two pieces of reform legislation. The first, HB 2051, would end the automatic six-month driver’s license suspensions for Virginians convicted of a first-time marijuana possession offense. It is long past time this reform was enacted in Old Dominion.
Also approved was a bill allowing licensed pharmaceutical processors to produce low-THC cannabis oil for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. This extremely narrow bill allows patients to avoid a conviction, but not an arrest, for possessing certain low- or no-THC medical cannabis oils. Both bills now await action from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is expected to sign them.
Last November, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) made waves with his surprising announcement that he plans to file a bill to study the decriminalization of marijuana. The crime commission is expected to convene this April to study that and other issues.
While these reforms should be applauded, the Commonwealth is still far from implementing the change seriously ill Virginia residents need. Please ask your lawmakers to show compassion for the seriously ill, including those with other serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, intractable pain, and PTSD. Medical marijuana is far less harmful and poses fewer negative side effects than most prescription drugs — especially painkillers — and patients often find it to be a more effective treatment. Tell your elected officials that the time for reform is now!
The Roanoke Times calls for medical marijuana
On March 5, 2017, shortly after the close of the 2017 legislative session, the editorial board of the Roanoke Times published an editorial calling for the state to adopt a medical marijuana program. Further, in April 2015, a Quinnipiac poll found that 86% of Virginia voters support the legalization of medical marijuana. It is clear that support for this critical issue exists statewide, it is time that lawmakers listen to the will of the people. Please click here to let your legislators know that this issue is important to you.
Please write your legislators and ask them to support the will of their constituents 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.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Virginia, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.