Welcome to LoudounTimes.com
Loudoun Times-Mirror

Virginia legalizing marijuana anytime soon? Probably not, lawmakers say

Facebook/NORML
Could Virginia become the next state to legalize marijuana? Probably not, local lawmakers told the Times-Mirror on the eve of international pot celebration day, April 20, commonly referred to as 4/20.

This year, the Virginia General Assembly introduced at least a dozen marijuana-related bills. The Virginia State Crime Commission is also studying whether the commonwealth should decriminalize marijuana.

But even if a legalization framework was put in place, some legislators say they would not support legalizing pot for recreational uses.

“I do not support legalizing marijuana for recreational use,” Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th) said. “I don't believe it is, at this juncture, appropriate to allow for another recreational narcotic to enter the Virginia mainstream.”

Minchew said that, with a physician's prescription, he supports the use cannabis oil to be used for medical purposes to alleviate pain.

“When I hear about legislators in Washington and Colorado [legalizing] it because it helps them make some money, I think that's improper,” Minchew said. “I think allowing for a recreational use of a narcotic so you can tax it is not a legitimate public policy purpose.”

In Virginia the possession of even a small amount of pot can land you in jail. But in some states, including nearby Maryland, the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is only a civil crime.

In Washington, D.C., marijuana is legal for recreational and medical uses but banned from commercial sales.

State Del. John Bell (D-87th) said he does not support fully legalizing marijuana, especially given his son's previously publicized struggle with opioid addiction. But Bell said he is in favor of getting rid of harsh criminal penalties, and he also supports using weed for medical reasons.

“I don't ... not in Virginia,” Bell said when asked if he thought marijuana would be legalized in the commonwealth in the near future. “I don’t think that the sentiment is strong enough in the General Assembly to do that.”

Two prominent pot bills that passed the General Assembly this session included SB 1091, which amends Virginia’s mandatory driver’s suspension law so that it no longer applies to adults convicted of simple marijuana possession offenses, and SB 1027, which allows Virginia pharmacies to make and sell cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil to treat intractable epilepsy.

State Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27th) introduced a similar bill this session -- SB 1298 -- that would have also made cannabidiol oil available to those suffering from cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Crohn's disease and several other medical conditions. Vogel’s bill passed in the Senate but died in the House.

The Fauquier-based state senator, who represents a small portion of Loudoun, is more optimistic about pot reform. Vogel said she thinks it is likely the General Assembly will look into decriminalizing or taxing and reforming marijuana.

Although Vogel said she does not support fully decriminalizing marijuana, she thinks it is a mistake for the legislature to not at least take another look at the commonwealth's pot laws.

“I think we are making a huge mistake if we’re not taking a second look at our marijuana laws and if we’re, at a minimum, not prepared to expand our medical marijuana use in Virginia,” she said.

Jenn Michelle Pedini, the executive director of the Virginia chapter of marijuana reform advocacy group NORML, said although she thinks the state is on the path toward decriminalizing marijuana, the commonwealth is unlikely to legalize pot anytime soon.

Pedini noted that federal policy will have to shift if Virginia wants to get to a place of taxing and reforming the substance.

“In order for Virginia to move toward a tax and regulate model … it's going to require a shift in federal policy,” Pedini said. “Currently Virginia has ranked number two of all the states for securing federal funds. I'm sure Virginia would much prefer to be number one. We are never going to do anything that jeopardizes our ability to receive government money.”

Comments


YOU DON’T GET IT CHUCK.  MARIJUANA AND TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL..DO YOU THINK ANY OF THESE ARE NATURAL?  NO.  THEY WERE CREATED IN THE LABORATORY OF THE DEVIL AND SENT HERE TO TEMPT US AS WE ARE TESTED ON THIS TEMPORARY PLANET.  JESUS SAYS THAT OUR TEMPLE IS A BODY AND WE NEED TO TREAT IT AS SUCH.  DID JESUS EVER DESTROY A TEMPLE?  EXACTLY.  YOU NEED TO REALIZE THAT NO AMOUNT OF MONEY CAN BRING BACK LITTLE JOHNNY WHO DECIDED TO SMOKE A JOINT ONE DAY - THIS STORY ENDS HORRIFICALLY AS JOHNNY ENDS UP BEING A PRETTY NORMAL PERSON WITH A FAMILY AND 2 DOGS.  HE’S NEVER GOTTEN A DUI OR IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW YET HIS RAMPANT DRUG USE WILL EVENTUALLY GET THE MEXICAN MAFIA KNOCKING ON THEIR DOOR TO COLLECT WHAT’S COMING TO THEM.  THE DOTS ARE EASY TO CONNECT. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT MY CRAYONS.


I agree that pot use should be legal both medically and recreationally, most uneducated parents or adults haven’t actually conducted any personal research about the side effects and effects of pot use. They just agree with the stereo typical bias of the “evil drug”. In agreement with some of the previous comments, I agree, Alcohol is the most destructive drug in today’s society as well as cigarettes, but most parents, if they caught there kid drinking or smoking cigarettes, wouldn’t think of it as big a deal as smoking pot. Every year there are hundreds of thousands of deaths from both cigarettes and alcohol but there are no actual recorded deaths of pot itself killing anyone. Sure there may be cases out there of pot having a relation to harm or death, as well there are even more from alcohol. People need to educate themselves how pot actually effects the body. It doesn’t matter, legal or not, there will always be a market in marijuana industry, so why not profit off it.


I have a friend too that used weed once.  He was also murdered and then jailed.  Terrible situation for everybody involved.  His family has since moved to another country to avoid the shame and stigma that comes along with being the family member of a user. 

I do not use any kind of drug - foregoing even coffee or chocolate - you never know which drug will eventually catapult you over the edge.  One day it’s a drive thru at Starbucks for your caffeine fix, next day you’re hanging out in truck stop bathrooms hoping to earn a buck for heroin.  There’s truly no middle ground. 

My soul weeps for all the marijuana destroyed families living through these nightmarish times.


Alcohol is, by far, the most destructive drug in America.  Almost 100,000 Americans die every year from its abuse or due to related accidents.

Alcohol is so very destructive because it is so readily available.  Now, people want to make marijuana easily available.  Guess what will happen?  Accidents, deaths, and social costs will rise substantially.

There are no benefits to using any drug outside of medical necessity.

I do favor prohibition but concede it is politically impossible.

Unfortunately, we have a quiet epidemic of drug abuse.  Only a few years ago, prescription drug use surpassed illegal drug use for the number of addicts.  There are 22M Americans battling substance abuse.

Drug use is a waste of time and a waste of life.  You gain nothing from it, throw money down the drain, and limit your potential in life.

ChucklesTheClown, Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer.  While the cause of cancers are difficult to pinpoint, drug use has a profoundly negative effect on the pancreas.  It is likely that his life was cut short by drug use.


Let’s say we legalize MJ, back in my LE days, 1/4 of all samples came back with PCP positive. I get that if it is legalized that some will be sold via the state, but there will be 50% sold ultimately via the underbelly of the Mexican Mafia that will undercut the state, which you won’t be able to differentiate. Legal or not, there will always, always be a black market for drugs due to pricing, taxes and other variables. Say what you want, but I’ve seen pot destroy a massive amount of lives and be the gateway drug to other drugs. I’ve avoided it and people who use it and other drugs. My brothers best friend got murdered over it and I sent him to prison over it. I would do the same to you.


David Dickinson: Does that include alcohol? Are you in favor or returning to prohibition?


Recent polls show over 60% of Americans favor legalization of marijuana. The only groups opposed are republicans and those 55 years of age and over, both at 45%.


Yeah, Steve Jobs was so dumb.

When enough of these fuddy-dutty’s die off, it will be legal, as it always should have been.

@Duncan_Idaho: love me some Dune!


People are getting way too soft on pot (and drugs in general).  It is a bad and evil drug.  If it has a medicinal purpose, fine.  Long time users are called pot-heads because they get dumber with age.

The fewer drugs the public as access to, the better.


This is a tough issue, but Del. Minchew was quoted here referring to pot as a “narcotic”...it is definitely not a narcotic. Narcotics are drugs like heroin, morphine, and oxycodone.


I’m inclined to believe most of ChocolateDinosaur’s posts, including the one below, are satire.


This is good news.  I’m tired of seeing the headlines about families being destroyed by the pot.  Too many teenagers out there think they’re invincible and end up injecting far too much of this powerful and evil drug and end up hurting themselves and often times their brains disconnect from the brain stem.  Let’s all educate ourselves and keep this dangerously addictive substance out of Loudoun!


As I get older and more pains pop up, I think POT would be a better alternative than modern medicine.


I don’t smoke weed, but I think VA could gain a huge first mover advantage by being the first mid-Atlantic state to legalize it.  You’d have residents of DC, MD, PA, WV, NC etc all coming to VA to buy it legally.  You then use the boatload of extra tax revenue to repair that crumbling infrastructure we keep hearing so much about.

Seems like a no-brainer.  And VA is already known for tobacco so this is a natural progression.


It’s only a plant. Why is it a criminal offense to be in possession of a plant?

Post a comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments express only the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or any associated person or entity. Any user who believes a message is objectionable can contact us at ltmeditor@loudountimes.com.

More News

As Seen IN PRINT
The Loudoun Times-Mirror

is an interactive, digital replica
of the printed newspaper.
Click here for all e-editions.
Email UPDATES