Medical marijuana bill dies despite surprise support from Republican leader
A House subcommittee has unceremoniously tabled a pair of bills that would have liberalized Virginia's marijuana laws, in effect killing them. One measure would have made possession of under one ounce of pot a civil infraction punishable with merely a $500 fine. The other would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for any medical condition, if the Federal government ever allows it. Virginia already has a law that says if FDA changes its rules on pot, doctors could prescribe marijuana for cancer and glaucoma.
A few days ago, we wrote about how these bills were being viewed largely with humor in the conservative House of Delegates. But at today's subcommittee meeting, each received a lengthy and serious hearing. Their death was a surprise to no one.
But there was one big surprise:
Republican Majority Leader Morgan Griffith announced to the subcommittee that though he opposed the bill to decriminalize marijuana possession he had, in fact, drafted the bill to allow for medical marijuana and he supported its passage.
He then gave a fairly impassioned defense of the idea that doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis, arguing it is no more dangerous than many drugs already allowed for medical use. "I truly believe that if we allow the use of morphine, opiates and oxycotin, we ought to allow for this," Griffith said.
A few years ago, Griffith was on the leading edge for his party in supporting a ban on smoking in restaurants. His support for allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis for medical use in Virginia could likewise presage widening support for the idea.
CORRECTION: While Griffith sponsored early legislation on the smoking issue, his bill would have permitted restaurants the option of allowing smoking, if they posted signs clearly visible to patrons at the entrance. He also voted against measures to require restaurants to ban smoking. Our apologies for the error.
But, only in future years. This year, despite his effort, the panel voted to table the legislation 4 to 2.
January 27, 2010; 6:49 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman
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