Bill introduced to legalize marijuana in Virginia

Virginia lawmakers are back at the capital for the 2019 legislative session that kicks off Wednesday.

Gov. Ralph Northam will issue his State of the Commonwealth at 7 p.m. in Richmond after the General Assembly convenes at noon.

This year’s session is scheduled to last 45 days and end on Feb. 23.

Much of the focus will be on state tax policy and whether to expand gambling in Virginia.

A Democrat delegate, representing Norfolk and Portsmouth, has already introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana in Virginia.


Virginia lawmaker introduces legislation to legalize marijuana in the state

Virginia House Delegate Steve Heretick, a former Justice Department attorney and president of the Virginia Board of Medicine, knows that cannabis, like any intoxicant, poses risks. But he also believes that adults should have the freedom and the responsibility to choose whether or not to consume cannabis for medical or other purposes. In a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday, the day before the start of Virginia’s first 2019 legislative legislation, Heretick presents those views as he introduces his bill to legalize marijuana in the state. Today, Heretick submitted that bill, HB2371, to the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates.


Virginia to again consider marijuana decriminalization

When it comes to marijuana, Virginia has lagged behind many states where the drug has been decriminalized or legalized for recreational use.

With lawmakers approving an expansion of the state's medical marijuana program in 2018, supporters of decriminalization are hoping that momentum will continue in 2019. But Virginia Republicans don't appear willing to support decriminalization.


Virginia entrepreneur wants to start marijuana gifting business in Detroit

While legal weed may be hard to find until it becomes commercially available in early 2020, it was only a matter of time before budding entrepreneurs came up with a way around Michigan’s new recreational marijuana law.

On High Road, a Boston-based online business founded and owned by Brandon Anthony, a 33-year-old Virginia native, plans to start a marijuana “gifting” service in Detroit this month.

Anthony will sell someone 21 or older a “munchie bag” filled with cookies or a muffin, candy or a T-shirt, for anywhere between $55 to $120. Along with the purchase of the bag: a gift of marijuana, no more than the 2.5 ounces allowed under Michigan law.  


More lenient hemp laws could play new role in Virginia agriculture

There are various ways advocates pitch growing hemp as a crop, but at one point there is almost always this familiar refrain: “It’s not marijuana. You can’t get high off of it.”

Hemp’s association with its plant cousin has demonized the crop for many years. But attitudes about hemp are changing. And Susan Cromer is looking forward to it.


Virginia Board of Pharmacy announces the first five medical cannabis dispensaries

The Virginia Board of Pharmacy announced earlier this week the first five companies that will be allowed to dispense medical cannabis within the state.

The Virginia General Assembly approved a bill earlier this year to allow physicians to recommend cannabidiol oil or THC-A to help with symptoms of diagnosed diseases or conditions, whereas previously Virginians could only use cannabis oil for epilepsy. Virginia has been divided in five “Health Service Areas”, and each of the five companies will have an area to cover.


Lawmakers ask VA secretary to research marijuana as an alternative to opioids

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are urging the new Department of Veterans Affairs secretary to research marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Thursday, the lawmakers asked him to initiate a “rigorous clinical trial” of the drug. In recent years, more veterans have come out in support of marijuana as a potential alternative to addictive opioids.

“We believe VA has the authority, ability and capacity to carry out such a study,” they wrote. “Many of our nation’s veterans already use medicinal cannabis, and they deserve to have full knowledge of the potential benefits and side effects of this alternative therapy.”


'Our veterans deserve better,' congressperson calls on VA to allow medical marijuana research

As cannabis remains illegal federally, agencies like Veterans Affairs have little ability to provide medical marijuana to vets, but California Democrat Lou Correa is hoping to change. Congressman Correa has introduced legislation that would make it clear that VA can legally perform cannabis research and decide for itself what would be help veterans in need, writes Calvin Hughes.


Leaked emails show VA officials wanted to push cannabis for veterans but feared Trump administration wouldn't agree

In recent months Congress has debated and argued with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about providing medical marijuana to former soldiers. But it turns out the Department wasn't their actual obstacle, writes Joseph Misulonas.


Virginia receives 49 applications for the state's first 5 medical cannabis licenses

Virginia has received 49 applications from medical-cannabis companies hoping to be among the first to set up shop in the state, giving officials plenty of options as they prepare to hand out five licenses this summer.

The applications, which required a $10,000 filing fee, were due last week to the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, which is planning to issue licenses to allow one medical cannabis oil dispensary in each of the state’s five health service areas.

Several participants said the number of applications was slightly higher than they expected, indicating a strong interest from local entrepreneurs and established industry players looking for a foothold in Virginia.


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