November elections present opportunity to elect supporters of sensible marijuana policies in Virginia!
Last update: August 7, 2017
On November 7, Virginia voters will choose a new governor and all 100 members of the House of Delegates. These elected officials will decide whether to advance — or stall — bills to decriminalize marijuana, allow medical cannabis, and perhaps even regulate marijuana for adults.
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam secured the Democratic nomination for governor and will face off with former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie. MPP assigned Mr. Northam a “B” in our voter guide due to his support for decriminalization and medical marijuana. Mr. Gillespie received a “D” for his opposition to even decriminalization. Gillespie’s stance on medical marijuana is not known. Libertarian Cliff Hyra — who received an “A+” — will also appear on the November gubernatorial ballot.
Before the general election, we will again be putting together a voter guide — this time including delegate seats — and we could use your help! Please ask the candidates on your ballot where they stand on marijuana policy reform and then let us know! We will be happy to include any response you receive in our next voter guide.
In the meantime, be sure you are signed up for MPP’s free email alert service so we can keep you plugged into efforts to stop criminalizing Virginians who use a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Gov. McAuliffe signs two important reforms into law
On March 27, 2017, Virginia’s Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law SB 1091, finally ending the practice of automatically suspending a driver’s license for six months after receiving a first offense marijuana possession conviction. Once the law takes effect on July 1, the court will have discretion as to whether to impose this condition as a term of probation. Anyone receiving such a conviction will still be subject to other conditions under Virginia law, including substance abuse screening, drug testing, and community service. Minors will continue to be subject to the automatic license suspension.
One week before, the governor also signed SB 1027, permitting “pharmaceutical processors” to produce low-THC cannabis oil for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. This extremely narrow law will eventually provide for in-state production and distribution of the oil, and patients will be able to enroll in a program with their doctors’ certifications. You can read more about the program here.
While these two enacted reforms are steps in the right direction, they are far short of the improvements Virginians need. A poll released earlier this year found nearly eight in 10 state residents support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine, and 62% favored ending cannabis prohibition altogether. 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.