The Virginia Municipal League, a non-profit, non-partisan association representing dozens of Virginia cities and towns, has come out strong in favor of marijuana reform at this year’s General Assembly.
This is the text of what was unanimously approved at the VML’s annual business meeting on October 2nd:
VML supports a change to the Code of Virginia to make anyone found to be in the simple possession of no more than 0.5 oz. of marijuana for personal use subject to a civil rather than criminal penalty. Individuals under 21 years of age found to be in possession should still be required to undergo drug screening and participation in a treatment or education program as a condition of the suspension of a conviction if appropriate.
Medical Use of Marijuana
VML supports the expansion of an affirmative defense to prosecution for the possession or distribution of marijuana if a person has a valid written certification issued by a practitioner licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine to prescribe cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil for the treatment of, or to alleviate the symptoms of, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, ALS, MS, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other chronic or terminal conditions.
“The VML is smart to adopt resolutions that are so strongly favored by voters and in much needed areas of criminal justice and healthcare reform,” said Virginia NORML’s leader, Jenn Michelle Pedini. “Municipalities would be wise to follow their recommendation and adopt similar resolutions in their legislative agendas.”
92% of Virginians support doctor-recommended medical cannabis, according to a Quinnipiac Poll.
78% of Virginians support fines not crimes for marijuana possession, according to a poll conducted by VCU’s Center for Public Policy.
“There are two very important considerations to make as Virginia moves forward with both decriminalization and expansion of our medical cannabis program,” said Pedini. “First, the fine defined in the decriminalization bill must be affordable, otherwise it serves as a method to disproportionately penalize lower socioeconomic communities. Second, with medical expansion, it’s vitally important that the legislature allow doctors to decide to which of their patients they will recommend medical cannabis.
Pedini thinks the doctors should be left to decide.
“Outlining qualifying conditions in legislation is dangerous,” she said. “The practice of medicine should be left in the capable hands of physicians, not lawmakers.”
We will see which cities in Virginia show leadership by adding similar language to their legislative packages this year.
If this is an issue you care about, the time is always right to let your elected officials know how you feel.