Last week, the Virginia General Assembly sent Gov. Terry McAuliffe a bill to stop suspending drivers’ licenses for first-offense possession of small amounts of marijuana! This bill reflects years of work by advocates and is a significant victory on the path towards reform in Virginia!
In addition, the Legislature approved a bill allowing in-state production of cannabis and distribution of low-THC/ high-CBD cannabis oil for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. In order to take advantage of the program, patients must obtain a written certification from their neurologist or other epilepsy specialist. Another measure that would have included other medical conditions in the program was not passed by the Legislature.
While Virginia remains a long way off from joining the majority of states that have enacted more comprehensive reform — through decriminalization or the establishment of a medical marijuana program — these are two significant steps forward that advocates can celebrate.
The Virginia General Assembly is in full swing, and lawmakers have already considered several marijuana policy reform bills. Sen. Adam Ebbin’s SB 1091 — which would end the automatic six-month driver’s license suspension for first offense possession of marijuana — was approved by the Senate on Friday.
Last year, the General Assembly approved a bill to allow in-state production of cannabidiol oil for patients with intractable epilepsy. However, to become law, that bill — Sen. Dave Marsden’s SB 1027 — needs to pass again this year. It passed the Senate on Jan. 26.
Companion legislation for both bills are now being considered in the House.
Unfortunately, the committee defeated two other bills, which would have decriminalized possession of marijuana — replacing possible jail time with a civil penalty.