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Virginia Lawmakers Are Rather Progressive on Marijuana Policy


Virginia lawmakers are rather progressive in terms of marijuana policy. Conservatives are joining the side of support for legalization efforts. Republican Tom Garrett sponsored a bill to nationally decriminalize marijuana.

Garrett has opposed decriminalization in the past, but claims his personal opposition isn’t a factor in the issue, according to WVTF Radio. Garrett does say that the federal government needs to get caught up with a majority of states in the U.S.

Garrett said, “Well so I prosecuted for ten years, and I think inherently where you have laws that aren’t uniformly enforced, by definition you have injustice. It frustrates me that the federal government chooses to enforce its own marijuana policies in some states, and then turn a blind eye in others.”

He said, “It’s not about that, it’s about letting the states do what the states feel is right for them, because that’s the de facto anyway, except where they prosecute. And they do. How is it that you can go to prison in one state and not be looked at in another, and it’s not right.”

GOP leaders have continuously blocked marijuana law reform from the House in the previous session. Morgan Griffith is on the other side when it comes to his party’s opinion. He supports medical marijuana use, but for limited purposes. His opinion changed when a family from his district moved out-of-state, to Colorado, to obtain marijuana oil to treat their child’s seizures.

Griffith said, “She was having to guess at what kind of tincture to cook up, that she would actually boil marijuana leaves for her daughter and then pull out the oils and use the oils. And her daughter would take the oils, this is not about getting high, and her seizures went from 300 to 1 in a given period.”

Now, Griffith is urging GOP leaders to take up the bill loosening restrictions so that research on marijuana can take place to determine its medicinal benefits with certainty.

He said, “You know most of your research facilities don’t want to invest in something where they might be in trouble a year from now or two years from now. So we want to give them that stability that as long as you’re using it to research for medicinal purposes, let’s use it. And of course as I’ve always said, if we can use opiates and barbiturates, we certainly ought to be able to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.”

Democrat Don Beyer says the current debate regarding marijuana is missing the point.

Beyer said, “I’ve long thought that we should treat our drug use as a public health crisis, rather than a criminal justice issue.”

Democrat Bobby Scott supports medical marijuana. He also says that prohibition has “left tens of thousands of minorities behind bars in one state for something that is legal in their neighboring states”.

Scott said, “But the fact that it’s sold over the counter for recreational use in several states now, shows that we really need to reevaluate it. My view is that it should not be a federal crime.”

It appears that the opinions of lawmakers in Virginia regarding marijuana is shifting. Several are working to urge the federal government to get up to speed. Prohibition doesn’t make sense and more lawmakers are seeing this every day.