Virginia

Thu
22
Feb

Virginia: The federal government can't decide what to do with veterans and medical marijuana

Many veterans groups are putting pressure on the federal government to allow VA hospitals and doctors to prescribe medical marijuana. But so far the feds have no idea how to handle the situation, writes Joseph Misulonas.

First, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said that his department was barred from researching medical marijuana for vets because the drug's illegal status at the federal level.

Tue
13
Feb

Virginia Senate passes bill to allow expungement of first marijuana charge

The Senate on Monday passed a bill that would allow someone charged with possession of marijuana for the first time to later pay $150 to have the charge expunged.

The vote on Senate Bill 954 by Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City, was 38-2. Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, said he opposed the bill because it did nothing to stop the racially disparate criminal enforcement of marijuana laws, and he cited public opinion polls saying people no longer want marijuana possession prosecuted as a crime.

Norment acknowledged his measure was not a decriminalization bill, but said it “makes a substantial step forward.”

Mon
05
Feb

Virginia moves closer to legalizing a form of medical marijuana

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would legalize medical cannabidiol oil on Friday. 

“It feels great. I was really truly not expecting unanimous,” Beth Collins said.

Collins was surprised to see 98 yes’s and zero no’s for HB 1251.

The legislation would allow doctors in Virginia to prescribe a form of medical marijuana for people living with any condition or disease.

It is called cannabidiol or THC-A.

The oil contains extracts from marijuana that can help with pain and even help fight some cancer cells.

It has been a long, four-year journey for Collins and her family.

Wed
31
Jan

Virginia Senate Republicans kill bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana

Republicans on a Senate committee Monday killed a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana by changing the punishment from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil penalty.

The Virginia ACLU and a representative of the Northam administration both backed Senate Bill 111 from Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, and the bill was opposed by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys.

The vote to defeat the bill was party line, with nine Republicans on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee voting to kill it and six Democrats voting for the bill.

Republicans in the House had already killed a similar measure from Del. Steve Heretick, D-Portsmouth.

Thu
25
Jan

Marijuana decriminalization in Virginia likely won't happen – but other pro-marijuana efforts may

Virginia is unlikely to decriminalize marijuana in 2018, thanks to action Wednesday by a House subcommittee.

The panel rejected a bill that would have decriminalized a half-ounce or less of the drug.

Del. Steve Heretick, D-Portsmouth, said now is the time to stop putting marijuana offenders behind bars. He cited several states legalizing and others decriminalizing.

“We’ve seen evolved societal norms. … More (people) are accepting of marijuana,” Heretick said Wednesday. “This is a bill whose time has come.”

The subcommittee disagreed, rejecting it 7-1, with Del. Charniele Herring, a Democrat, casting the lone vote in favor.

Tue
23
Jan

Veterans pushing for right to use Medical Marijuana

Pereyda came home from Iraq in 2005 a changed man. But not for the better.

Pereyda, who joined the Army after he saw the Twin Towers in New York City fall on Sept. 11, 2001, served as a military police officer.

He endured a year-long combat tour in Baghdad and other violent spots, where he saw many in his platoon suffer serious injury, mostly from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Pereyda returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was in intense physical pain, with serious back and shoulder injuries.

And he felt disillusioned because he had joined up to fight al-Qaida, not Saddam Hussein, “who had nothing to do with 9/11.”

Fri
12
Jan

Virginia: Year-old anti-prohibition bill attracts public interest

The 5th congressional district is Virginia's largest in terms of land mass, and its solidly conservative voter base helped make it one of the state's first districts to turn Republican.

The almost all-white district, which voted for segregationist George Wallace in the 1968 presidential election, includes Charlottesville, home of last summer's tragic Unite the Right rally. For those sticking to traditional political party stereotypes, this certainly doesn't sound like the place where a Republican congressman would file a bill to end cannabis prohibition. 

Tue
09
Jan

VA clears the air on doctors talking to veterans about Marijuana use

"Don't ask, don't tell" is how many veterans have approached health care conversations about marijuana use with the doctors they see from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Worried that owning up to using the drug could jeopardize their VA benefits — even if they're participating in a medical marijuana program approved by their state — veterans have often kept mum. That may be changing under a new directive from the Veterans Health Administration urging vets and their physicians to open up on the subject.

The new guidance directs VA clinical staff and pharmacists to discuss with veterans how their use of medical marijuana could interact with other medications or aspects of their care, including treatment for pain management or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Thu
21
Dec

Virginia: New rules allow doctors to talk about Medical Marijuana

Doctors and pharmacists at the Veterans Affairs Department have been cleared to talk about the pluses and minuses of medical marijuana use with vets who ask about the drug.

The doctors will still be barred from recommending or prescribing marijuana, but under a new VA directive they will be able to "discuss with the veteran marijuana use, due to its clinical relevance to patient care, and discuss marijuana use with any veterans requesting information about marijuana."

In issuing the new rule earlier this month, the VA reaffirmed its long-standing policy against marijuana use under federal laws including the Controlled Substances Act.

Tue
07
Nov

Virginia is wasting how much money to jail marijuana users?

A Republican state senator from Virginia is fighting to decriminalize marijuana after release of report from the state’s crime commission concluded that it would prevent more than 10,000 arrests a year.

Sen. Tommy Norment, who serves as the senate majority leader, said earlier this week that he  will introduce legislation in 2018 that would make possession for first-time offenders a civil offense punishable by a fine, mandatory education and a driver’s license suspension. 

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