2018 will be remembered as the year marijuana went mainstream in Virginia with the passage of the historic Let Doctors Decide medical cannabis bill, expanding access for all Virginia patients to the five vertically integrated pharmaceutical facilities that will be opening across the Commonwealth this year.
By Virginia NORML
Advocates for marijuana law reform in Virginia see opportunity for continued progress in 2019.
“The goal this year is to expand the medical cannabis program to allow processors to dispense full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis products,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), noting this change will greatly benefit patients battling cancer, veterans with PTSD, and those struggling with chronic pain or opioid dependency.
“Virginia patients deserve safe access to the medical cannabis products they need at regulated facilities,” Pedini continued to say. “Under current regulations, the therapeutic potential is severely restricted, forcing patients to commit federal interstate drug trafficking or engage with the illicit market in hopes of obtaining what works best for them. Patients should instead be able to get their medicine at our licensed pharmaceutical processors.”
The marijuana law reform movement in Virginia will galvanize this month in Richmond for the Virginia 2019 Cannabis Conference and Lobby Day on January 12, 13, and 14.
Two days of expert speakers and workshops on marijuana law, advocacy, and Virginia’s emerging cannabis industry are followed up by a day at the capital lobbying elected officials face-to-face.
“Three quarters of Virginians support marijuana decriminalization or ‘fines not crimes,’ and nine out of ten Virginians support doctor-recommended medical cannabis,” said Pedini. “Now, the General Assembly is beginning to catch up with the demands of voters.”
The Virginia 2019 Cannabis Conference and Lobby Day is open to the public. Registration happens at virginiacannabisconference.com.
“Virginia NORML advocates for commonsense marijuana law reform that aligns with the core values of Virginians,” said Pedini. “Marijuana law reform means saving Virginia taxpayers the $100M spent enforcing prohibition in 2018. Marijuana law reform means medical freedom for Virginia patients and their doctorst. This year, for the first time, marijuana law reform will also mean hundreds of thousands of new dollars coming into the Virginia economy.”
The Virginia 2019 Cannabis Conference will include presentations on growing your own cannabis-related business in Virginia, best practices for medical practitioners, and workshops on being an effective marijuana law reform advocate.
On Monday, January 14, dozens of Virginians will meet with their senators and delegates at the General Assembly, lobbying in support of marijuana-related legislation. Constituents will share their stories in hopes that hearts and minds are changed.
The conference is just one example of the growing support for cannabis in the Commonwealth. In early 2019, there will be screenings of the breakthrough documentary “Weed the People” in Roanoke on January 29 and Arlington on February 7. Two events in Norfolk will bring supporters together for community, education, and fun. The Big Green Cruise, co-sponsored by OutWire757, takes off from Waterside on January 18, and Virginia NORML hosts an educational dinner for medical professionals who want to learn more about medical cannabis legislation on January 26 at Brick Anchor Brew House.
“Virginia will only continue to grow greener and greener,” said Pedini. “The more Virginians demand reform from their legislators, the faster marijuana prohibition will end in Virginia. The Virginia 2019 Cannabis Conference and Lobby Day provide the education and opportunities for anyone looking to make a difference.”