A Virginia bill filed this week would significantly expand the state’s inoperative medical marijuana laws by allowing the plant to be recommended for a wide range of conditions and authorizing pharmacists and doctors to dispense it to patients. Passage into law would effectively nullify the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.
Presently, only cancer or glaucoma patients receiving the prescription of a physician are eligible for medical marijuana. And it’s illegal in Virginia for doctors or pharmacists to dispense marijuana to their patients. The result of this are patients who can obtain prescriptions but still have no safe access to the plant.
House Bill 1605 (HB1605) by Delegate Ken Plum (D-Reston) would change this. The bill would remove the state prohibition on people possessing marijuana “obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid recommendation of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice.”
There are no limitations in the bill on what conditions such practitioner recommendations could be given for.
HB1065 also begins to address the problem of access by authorizing medical doctors and pharmacists to “dispense or distribute” marijuana to a person in accordance with the practitioner recommendations authorize in the bill.
The legislation isn’t the only marijuana reform bill that is being considered by the Virginia state legislature this year. SB686 would effectively decriminalize marijuana for recreational use by making possession of a small amount punishable by a civil penalty rather than jail time. Between HB1605 and SB686, Virginia stands a good chance of altering their drug laws in a way that gets them further away from federal control in 2015.
The federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic and attempts to prohibit it for any purpose. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey says this clearly violates the Constitution.
“The Constitution delegates no power to the federal government to prohibit marijuana in the states. This power remains with the state governments and the people. Doubt me? Then ask yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no fundamental difference,” Maharrey said.
As more states take marijuana policy into their own hands, defying the federal prohibition, the federal government has become increasingly incapable of enforcing its unconstitutional prohibition. They simply lack the resources to stop the tidal wave. For those concerned about the health care and personal choices of people living in Virginia, this cannot come too soon.
“The last time half the states took action to nullify the federal government was in response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,” said Maharrey. “This is historic, and it can continue with the passage of HB1605 in Virginia during this year’s legislative session.”
Medical marijuana is an incredibly important issue pertaining to nullification and states’ rights. Because it is so overwhelmingly popular, medical marijuana can act as a metaphorical ‘gateway drug’ to the idea of state and local resistance to onerous federal laws. With this issue, it is possible to show the residents of your state that local control better serves the needs of the people than the top-down federal approach that has failed for so many decades.
Although it draws a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, HB1605 marks an enormous step in the right direction for both medical marijuana supporters and advocates of decentralized government in the state of Virginia. It signals that the public is ready to throw off the shackles of ‘federal supremacy’ and take lawmaking into their own hands.
In Virginia: Contact your state representative, and urge them to co-sponsor HB1605 to broaden the state’s medical marijuana law. Contact your state senator, and urge them to co-sponsor SB686 to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. You can find their contact information by clicking HERE.
In Other States: Contact your state legislators and politely demand that they introduce bills legalizing medical or recreational cannabis. You can find their contact information by clicking HERE.