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Marijuana reform advocates divided between decriminalization or legalization

1/15/20--House Bill 1507 wants to exclude marijuana from a list of controlled substances that are illegal to possess. Under current law. Less than half an ounce of marijuana is considered a class one misdemeanor. Nine other bills have been introduced this session relating to the possession of marijuana. Some propose legalization, while others propose decriminalization. Although the terms are used interchangeably at times, the two carry dramatically different meanings. Read

Virginia Sheriff’s Association opposes marijuana legalization

1/17/20--On Friday, the Virginia Sheriff’s Association gave a presentation to members of the Public Safety Committee weighing in on proposed criminal justice reform stating they did not support decriminalizing marijuana and opposed outright legalization. Read

Researchers receive USDA grant to study transport of pollen from genetically engineered switchgrass and hemp

10/1/19--Virginia Tech researchers David Schmale, Shane Ross, and Hosein Foroutan recently received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the transport of pollen from genetically engineered (GE) switchgrass and hemp using drones and mathematical models. The project will provide vital predictions for farmers, whose crops are often plagued by drifting unwanted substances, and allergy sufferers, who are curious to know what weather conditions will cause allergy season to hit the hardest. Read

Virginia lawmakers allow medical marijuana to be dispensed in lollipops and lozenges

3/8/19--Virginia lawmakers have tweaked medical marijuana laws so the drug can be dispensed in lozenges, lollipops and lotions, and so school children certified to use it will be protected from expulsion and their nurses from prosecution. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy in November awarded licenses to five medical marijuana dispensaries to cultivate the plant, extract the oil and sell to customers who are registered with the state to use the product. Read

Bill sponsor says legal marijuana is example of limited government, personal liberty

1/14/19--A bill introduced by Del. Steve Heretick, D-Portsmouth, into the Virginia House of Delegates would legalize recreational marijuana for individuals 21 years or older. Heretick stated that legalizing the plant would serve the aim of “limited government” and “personal liberty,” which he said is something he thinks both major political parties value. Read

Weed legalization, decriminalization bills for Virginia die in committee

1/17/19--A local delegate's push to legalize marijuana for recreational use was shot down, as well as several other major bills aimed at decriminalizing or legalizing the drug before they even reached the full General Assembly this year. Read

Here’s how much Virginia taxpayers are spending to jail marijuana users

10/31/17--According to the findings of a report on marijuana decriminalization prepared by the Virginia State Crime Commission, Virginia authorities have arrested more than 133,000 people suspected of marijuana possession over the past 10 years. Each year, about 10,000 individuals are convicted of a first-time marijuana possession offense. And on one day in July 2017, there were 127 individuals in jail on a marijuana charge alone, costing Virginia taxpayers more than $10,000 a day. Read

New Virginia law changes punishment for marijuana possession

6/26/17--As a result of new laws going into effect in Virginia, more people will be able to keep their driver’s license after being charged with marijuana possession. It will allow a judge to opt for additional community service instead of automatically suspending someone’s driver’s license for six months. HB 2051 / SB 1091 impacts adults who were not operating a vehicle at the time of the offense. Read

Police Chief: Marijuana is fueling recent Richmond shootings

6/8/17--Marijuana is behind Richmond's recent spike in gun violence, according to Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham. The chief took aim at the drug that has been legalized in eight states and the District of Columbia. However, he did not elaborate on exactly how marijuana was tied to the recent Richmond shootings. Read

Hearing airs details on medical marijuana dispensary

5/20/17--Geoff Rose, who is doing business as Patient Centric, has proposed using 6,600 square feet of a still-unbuilt structure that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved in 2010 for a proposed medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation center in West Tisbury. Yet, questions remain as the project works its way through the commission. A continued public hearing shed light on issues related to security and traffic, as well as the site’s proximity to the West Tisbury School, and state regulations that appear to have caused more confusion than clarity. Read

Racial disparities in marijuana arrests seen across Virginia

5/15/17--African Americans are more than six times as likely as white residents to be arrested for possessing marijuana in Hanover County. Statewide, black residents are about three times as likely as white residents to be arrested on marijuana charges, according to a Capital News Service analysis of data from the Virginia State Police. The analysis found that the racial disparity in marijuana arrest rates has increased over the years. Read

Gov. McAuliffe expected to sign marijuana reforms

3/14/17--Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to sign marijuana-related bills passed by the General Assembly during its recent session. They include SB 1027, which will allow Virginia pharmacies to make and sell marijuana extract oils for treating intractable epilepsy, HB 2051, and SB 1091, which will eliminate the state’s punishment of automatically suspending the driver’s license of adults convicted of simple marijuana possession. Read

The next ‘big tobacco’ makes inroads into Virginia

2/23/17--According to a published editorial by Rafael Lemaitre, who served as associate director for public affairs for the White House Drug Policy Office under President Barack Obama, politicians in Richmond are opening the door to the full-scale commercialization of yet another drug in Virginia. Lemaitre strongly believes that the painful lessons of the national experience with Big Tobacco should not be forgotten, which for decades lied to Americans about its products and marketed an addictive, harmful drug to minority communities and young people to make money. Read

Bills would end license suspension for marijuana possession

1/26/17--Virginians convicted of marijuana possession would no longer automatically lose their driver’s license for six months under legislation moving through the General Assembly. However, juveniles convicted of marijuana possession still would be subject to license suspension under the legislation. The bills would leave it up to the judge’s discretion to suspend the driver’s license of adult defendants. Read

Bills going to VA General Assembly on marijuana, opiods and heroin

1/9/17--More than a dozen bills have been proposed for the General Assembly to consider surrounding marijuana, opioids, and heroin. The Community Coalitions of Virginia, a group of prevention groups from around the Commonwealth, meets Monday to talk about their stance on fourteen bills going before the General Assembly this year. Read

Virginia Senator requests state marijuana study

12/7/16--Virginia’s Senate majority leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. has requested that the State of Virginia look into marijuana decriminalization by developing a study to examine four key areas: The consequences experienced by any state that has decriminalized marijuana, any ramifications with the feds if marijuana was decriminalized in Virginia, and whether states have opted to raise penalties for subsequent offenses.