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.


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.”


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


Veterans overwhelmingly favor medical marijuana. When will VA and lawmakers get on board?

An overwhelming majority of U.S. military veterans and veteran caregivers support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, according to a new national poll by Five Corner Strategies conducted on behalf of the American Legion — and veterans aren’t going to stop until the Department of Veterans Affairs starts taking medical marijuana research seriously.

The poll found that while 82% of respondents supported the legalization of medical cannabis, a whopping 92% supported expanded research into the medical benefits of the drug. And that attitude cuts across political boundaries: 88% of respondents who self-identified as “conservative” and 90% of self-identified “liberals” supported a federal legalization effort.


Commission studying decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia

Will Virginia decriminalize marijuana? It’s an issue that Republicans have resisted for years, which is why it came as a surprise when Senate Majority Leader Republican Tommy Norment voiced his support of decriminalizing marijuana last year.

Norment asked the Virginia Crime Commission to study the issue, which is what they’ve been doing for the past few months. On Monday, the commission presented its findings in front of a packed house.


Virginia: UVa harvesting first results from hemp, medical marijuana project

The University of Virginia has completed its first successful harvest of hemp plants in collaboration with a private plant biotechnology company.

The harvest — coming after the first year of a three-year, $1.1 million sponsored research agreement between UVa and biotech company 22nd Century Group — is one of several private-public partnerships across the commonwealth investigating hemp and medical marijuana. Principal investigator Michael Timko wants to renew Virginia as a leading producer of hemp and to restore land depleted by tobacco and mining.

“The idea is, why should we be importing things from overseas when we could be growing it here,” said Timko, a biology professor at UVa. “Plus, it creates new sources of revenue for farmers.”


Virginia Company utilizes space-age technology

Chris Lane was in law school when recreational marijuana was becoming legal in Washington.

“When I said I wanted to work in this industry, most people were caught off-guard, but people who knew me well weren’t surprised to hear that I was going to start a marijuana business,” he said.

This interest led to the founding of Virginia Company, an indoor producer/processor operation in Spokane Valley. Chris, CEO, and his wife Rebecca Lane, QA Manager, began performing detailed research into a wide variety of growing methods.

Chris said a post deep within an online agricultural forum caught his eye, describing aeroponics, an interesting growing method which requires little water and no soil.


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