Republican support of legalized marijuana is rare, yet a Virginia Republican just introduced legislation to end federal prohibition. This would allow states to set their own policies without worrying about federal recourse.
Within the bill, a request to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act is also included, according to The Washington Post. Sales and use of marijuana wouldn’t be legalized under the bill – it is important to be clear on that point. States would merely have the authority to decide which direction regarding marijuana is right for its residents.
Representative Thomas Garrett said, “Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.”
No forms of marijuana are legal in Virginia at this time. If this new bill passes, interstate transport of marijuana would still be illegal – offenders would be charged with a federal crime.
Senator Bernie Sanders attempted to introduce an identical bill in 2015. The thing with Sanders’ bill is that it had no sponsors. Garrett’s bill, however, has three. Garrett’s support to end prohibition is likely shocking, simply due to his status, as a Republican, but Garrett is also a former prosecutor.
He said, “This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia.”
Tom Agnell of Marijuana Majority said, “While most of our federal gains to date have been through amendments attached to much broader spending bills, I’m hopeful that with the growing number of states changing their laws these stand-alone bills [like Garrett’s] will get enough traction to at least finally start getting hearings.”
Garrett said in an email, that, “In recent weeks, the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to crack down on federal marijuana crimes. During his confirmation, then-Senator Sessions pointed out that if legislators did not like this approach, they should change the laws accordingly.”