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Virginia: Local Focus, Nationwide Impact

  • by NORML March 20, 2017

    By Daniel Rouleau, Communications Director of Virginia NORML

    VANORMLIn the first quarter of 2017, the reform efforts of Virginia NORML laid a framework for exciting changes in the Commonwealth’s cannabis policies. As spring blooms, conversations are blossoming in municipalities across the state challenging the status quo of criminally prosecuting misdemeanor possession in favor of civil fines. And we’re leading the charge not only at home in Virginia, but in Congress as well. As Virginia NORML continues its mission to reform marijuana laws, our efforts must target all three fronts, federal, state and local.  

    Federal Changes from Virginia Conservatives
    Three bills have been introduced by Virginia congressmen that would significantly reform the current federal policy of prohibition. Rep. Griffin (R-VA) from the 9th district introduced the Legitimate Use of Medical Marijuana Act and the Compassionate Access Act. Both would reschedule marijuana from its current Schedule 1 classification, and include protections for state programs.

    Rep. Garrett (R-VA) from the 5th district introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017, and Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) from the 2nd quickly cosponsored. This bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act altogether, allowing states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference. This legislation was carried by Sen. Sanders in the previous session, and now, conservative lawmakers from Virginia are marching down the same path. Make no mistake, that is because they were lobbied by Virginia families desperate for medical reform, both in our statehouse and DC.

    VAreps

    VA Reps Griffin, Garrett, and Taylor 

    Emergence of a New Regulated Cannabis Industry
    In a watershed moment, the Virginia General Assembly unanimously passed a bill to regulate the in-state growth, production, and distribution of cannabis oil. Virginia NORML is closely monitoring the licensing process to ensure the agreed upon regulations are implemented swiftly and with patient safety and access of primary concern. Currently, the regulations only allow access to patients with intractable epilepsy. We are already hard at work with legislators preparing for expansion legislation in 2018 that will #LetDoctorsDecide which of their patients they would recommend medical cannabis to, just as they already do with all other medications.

    You can join our patient coalition at Cannabis Commonwealth if you’d like to stand with us in the fight for all Virginian’s rights to access safe, regulated medical cannabis.

    Local Efforts for Decriminalization
    Grassroots. This word is spoken often, on every channel, by both parties. Why? Because it works. An old cliché says “80% of success is showing up.” If you want to see decriminalization succeed in Virginia, you have to show up. Get to your City Council now. Prior to each General Assembly, councils prepare their legislative packages, policy wish lists that they draft based on community input. Any resident can sign up to speak before their council on issues important to them during the public comment period of any meeting. Ask your council to include a request for decriminalization and/or doctor-recommended medical cannabis in their 2018 package.

    Virginia operates under the Dillon Rule, which means municipalities cannot decriminalize, but they can deprioritize. City councils can direct their police departments to place the lowest level of priority on arresting adults for simple possession. And, Commonwealth Attorneys, which like city council are elected positions, are already empowered to refuse prosecuting misdemeanor possession charges, leaving resources available to prosecute violent crimes and felonies. Showing up is the first step in achieving any of these reforms!

    Spring Into Action
    Ready to do more but don’t know where to start? Get involved with your local Virginia NORML chapter, or check to see if your area has a Decriminalize movement, like Decriminalize Norfolk or Decriminalize Virginia Beach. If there is no group in your area, please contact us for help kickstarting the conversation in your hometown. Speakers, training, data, and procedural assistance are available through Virginia NORML to power your community’s journey to safer marijuana policies.

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook and Twitter. You can learn more at http://www.vanorml.org/ and support their work at vanorml.org/donate

    13 Responses to “Virginia: Local Focus, Nationwide Impact”

    1. DUKE DUNN says:

      GREAT UPDATE & WAKE UP CALL to #WEthePEOPLE – PLUS A PLAN of ACTION to MAKE CHANGES CAUSE if the PEOPLE want CHANGE WE MUST BE the CHANGE & #TakeAction – I want to mention #JesVegas DIR. #JeffersonAreaNORML had Jeffrey Fogel Attorney of Charlottesville running for Commonwealth ATTORNEY there speak @ our meeting & he would Decriminalize it there WE NEED TO BLAST IT for the PEOPLE – HE’S A #NORML STAND UP GUY where I come from 10 – 4 !!! – Also right after #TheNationalCannabisFestival in DC 4.22.17 DCMJ.org who got it LEGAL in DC will be having a BIG RALLY @ The US CAPITOL EASTSIDE HIGH NOON to 4:20 on 4.24.17 to DEMAND for LEGALIZATION NATIONWIDE & WE INVITE ALL ACTIVIST GROUP to SUPPORT THIS MOVEMENT & JOINT US THOSE that CARE to JOIN in ALSO for A MASS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE to MAKE it LEGAL NOW – NO MORE JERKING the PEOPLE AROUND for BIG PHARMA – THIS is the WILL of the AMERICAN PEOPLE NATIONWIDE as the GALLOP POLLS SHOW & #WEthePEOPLE RULE as the CONSTITUTION SPELLS OUT – TIME to STAND UP & DEMAND OUR RIGHTS #POWERtothePEOPLE SOSPACT WILL BE THERE RALLYING & DUCUMENTING for the CAUSE & PROMOTING IT WIDELY NOW – WILL POST the EVENT SHORTLY – SO BLOCK the DATE MONDAY 4.24.17 HIGH NOON @US CAPITOL PEOPLE MAKE IT HAPPEN NOW & MAKE HISTORY – ENOUGH PEOPLE IT WILL HAPPEN – WE WILL HAVE A LOT of CANNABIS FRIENDLY PEOPLE in DC that WEEKEND for the FESTIVAL HOPE to SEE A LOT of U THERE R B Sq

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Why do I keep hearing about 420 protests that don’t fall on April 20th? WTF is up with that? Don’t be fooled — there is only ONE 420 protest, and it occurs on 4/20.

        Have your secondary rallies and so forth, yes! …by all means. Go for it! But don’t fuck with the big one. That’s on the 20th of April. Don’t try to mess up a good thing.

        So why are all these other dates coming up? Is this prohibitionist trolling and misinformation? Or am I still paranoid? (And, remember, you’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you!)

        The protests will be nationwide on April 20th, and we will all light up at 4:20PM, where ever we are. Never mind if “organizers” say otherwise.

    2. Mark Mitcham says:

      Regular readers of these NORML blogs will recall that I’ve been among the most outspoken of those of us commenting here, who believe that the installation of Trump as Presid*nt (and all that implies, including Sessions and Bannon, and the like) poses a grave danger to the marijuana legalization movement. I’ve predicted a crackdown, one way or another.

      On the other hand, there are many comments on this blog representing an opposing viewpoint. Many of these people are Trump supporters and/or apologists, and who, by their own account, also support marijuana legalization. They make it clear they find no discrepancy between those two positions (their support for Trump, and their support for marijuana legalization.) These people predict there will be no crackdown as a result of a Trump administration.

      Each side has their reasons. But the moment of truth is here, in these first few months of the Trump administration; now we may simply watch and see: we’ll know who’s right and who’s wrong soon enough.

      I stand by comments, but in the interests of objectivity, I would like to consider the possibility I could be wrong: a hypothetical scenario in which there is no crackdown, and in which the marijuana legalization movement flourishes under the Trump administration.

      If it turns out I’m mistaken, I want to make several points in advance:
      1) I will be delighted. However, I will continue to detest Trump, Bannon, Sessions, and everything they represent.
      2) I stand by my threat assessment. But if I erred in my analysis, you will have to show me what I missed. Trump supporters won’t get credit from me for playing “Russian Roulette”, and getting lucky. No credit for delusional thinking and lucky guesses.

      At the moment, to the best of my knowledge, the dispensaries are all open for business, and the DEA is having sex parties, or whatever they do when they’re not violently oppressing Americans. Let’s keep it that way!

    3. Mark Mitcham says:

      Oops! Spoke too soon: Prohibitionists are cracking down! DEA raids in Colorado, sounds like a crackdown to me. Saying “it ain’t so” doesn’t make it not so. DEA is hiding behind President Obama’s skirts:

      Excerpts from reporter Blair Miller:
      “DENVER – Law enforcement agencies busted a large-scale illegal marijuana grow and distribution operation across Colorado Thursday morning. Here are five things you need to know about the raids:

      Where did the raids occur?

      The Drug Enforcement Agency, which assisted local law enforcement agencies in the raids, says there were 20 locations in Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and El Paso counties.

      How long has operation been under investigation?

      The DEA says the investigation of the still-unnamed organization has been ongoing for months, even prior to the transfer to the new administration. It also noted that there have been several other raids on illegal marijuana grows under the Obama administration.

      How much marijuana was confiscated?

      The court documents in the case are sealed, but it’s likely the raids netted thousands of pounds of marijuana. A Denver7 crew watched as at least 2,000 plants were taken out of a Denver warehouse alone.

      Why is this marijuana illegal?

      The DEA says that the illegal operations were selling exclusively outside of Colorado, which is a violation of state and federal law.

      Were today’s raids part of a federal crackdown

      Though there has been much apprehension over what new Attorney General Jeff Sessions will do when it comes to overseeing federal law enforcement regarding state laws on legal marijuana, the DEA says Thursday’s raids were not part of a new directive.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Trump supporters: Trump’s DEA says you voted to maintain the policies of the Obama administration! DEA says it’s okay to raid legal grow houses in Colorado, because President Obama did it before! Is that what you voted for? Are you satisfied with Obama’s policies on marijuana? Do you even know where you stand on the issue? Anybody home?

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          Does anybody really believe Sessions is okay with Colorado cannabis, just so long as it doesn’t cross state lines? Get real. He’s just grabbing the lowest hanging fruit. Think that’s going to be enough for them assholes? I don’t.

          Any marijuana users out there who still thinks Trump is their friend? Better think again.

          • RJ says:

            Man, quit with your fear mongering. The bust was justified! No dispensaries have been shut down, nothing has happened in legal states.

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          Read the above article carefully; Democrats and Republicans alike — we’re all Bernie Sanders supporters now, by a different name. That’s us Americans. That’s We The People. That’s R’s and D’s coming together over real policy matters, rather than warring over team colors.

          Beware Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing — that would be prohibitionists trying to pass as actual, decent human beings. They could be Democrat or Republican.

    4. Mark Mitcham says:

      Let’s legalize marijuana as part of the effort to oppose Trump’s inhumane deportations! If it’s no longer a crime, then you can’t be deported for it.

    5. Scott B says:

      Great news! We are finally seeing some action in VA!

    6. Matthew says:

      GOOD JOB! Rep Garret’s bill is the best idea for the federal reform we need. It’s great to see Democrats ‘protecting States’ Rights’, but just essentially repeal the federal definition of ‘marihuana’ – turn it all back to the States, entirely. That’s the way to go!

    7. Julian says:

      Set an apponitment today and get into your state representatives office. Gotta renew your license? Medical checkup? Schedule it on a citizen lobby day when state legislation for marijuana reform is pending a committee hearing or trying to get out of committee. When you visit your state capitol, dress professionally and focus on the legislation you wish to pass. Find out who chairs the committee your legislation will be heard in or so that your legislation may be heard. Contact your local NORML chapter and any chapter that operates in your state capitol.
      This is how we are legalizing marijuana: a green tsunami of state marijuana reform that gives no concessions to Sessions and even Trumps Trump. Remember, our legislators work for US. Be respectful and confident in the victory of good over evil.

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