Va. Lawmaker Proposes Medical Marijuana Bill

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  Va. Lawmaker Proposes Medical Marijuana Bill

Posted by CN Staff on January 20, 2010 at 16:23:26 PT
By Steve Szkotak, Associated Press 
Source: Washington Examiner  

Richmond, VA. --  Del. Harvey B. Morgan acknowledges he might not seem a likely proponent of decriminalizing marijuana and making the drug available medically. He's 79, a Republican and he's never touched the stuff.Surprising even his friends, Morgan has proposed bills that would ease penalties for marijuana possession and allow doctors to prescribe marijuana and pharmacists to dispense it for a wide range of medical uses.
Morgan, whose 31 years in the General Assembly ranks him No. 2 in seniority, outlined his legislation Wednesday at a news conference. He came prepared with a raft of charts, studies, legalization proponents and medical professionals, and a good dose of realism on its prospects of passage."I'm hopeful but not optimistic," Morgan, of Gloucester, said after the news conference.Fourteen states have what advocates call effective medical marijuana laws. Virginia has one of the oldest on the books — it dates back three decades — but it was enacted primarily for limited research purposes."Virginia is one of 17 states with laws that recognize marijuana as a medicine, but whose impact is strictly symbolic," said Bruce Mirken, formerly of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project and now an independent consultant.Because of laws restricting marijuana possession and distribution, "there is no supply of medical marijuana for physicians to prescribe or pharmacies to dispense," Mirken said.Under Morgan's two bills, the possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana would be reduced from a criminal offense to a civil one, carrying a $500 fine. People now face jail sentences and fines for possessing less than 1 ounce of the drug. In 2007, 18,000 people were prosecuted in Virginia for possessing 1 once of marijuana.Twenty-one states have decriminalized marijuana.The attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request by The Associated Press to comment on Morgan's proposals.Morgan said he felt compelled to promote the decriminalization bill because of the many lives damaged by possession of small amounts of marijuana. He called his legislation a common sense approach and one that would ease overburdened courts and jails."The commonwealth continues to punish people for mistakes made decades ago," Morgan said at the news conference. "We need to move to a more honest, reasoned, compassionate, and sensible drug policy, and this bill does that."The bill also eases penalties for marijuana distribution.On medical marijuana, Morgan drew upon his experience as a pharmacist, stating that all medications have benefits and risks. His bill would broaden the current statute, which allows for marijuana's use in the treatment of cancer or glaucoma, to include chronic pain, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis."We trust physicians with our health care," he said. "Why not trust them to determine appropriate therapy?"Morgan is realistic, however, and acknowledged the legislation has not been run by the medical establishment or law enforcement groups. The bills do not have a co-sponsor.Still, Morgan persuaded an old college classmate and skeptic, who attended Wednesday's news conference."I was surprised when I learned of this bill," Dr. Gaylord W. Ray said. "It seemed out of character."Like Morgan, however, Ray was persuaded by the suffering of patients and the human costs of strict drug laws."It is a sad thing to see someone at the end of their life who is struggling with cancer and taking chemotherapy and they can't get relief from nausea," he said.After more than three decades in the legislature, Morgan said he's more concerned about what's right than with winning another term in office."If people choose not to elect me because of this, that's up to them," he said. "But I'm doing the right thing, based on all the information I have."Source: Washington Examiner (DC)Author: Steve Szkotak, Associated PressPublished: January 20, 2010Copyright: 2010 Washington ExaminerContact: threads dcexaminer.comURL: Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #5 posted by Hope on January 27, 2010 at 17:29:08 PT
I'm so sad and sorry about this failure. I hate the way they mocked Del. Morgan and his good efforts. They mocked, but they might be sorry someday when they or someone they love needs the help that can be found in the use of the amazing plant.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on January 27, 2010 at 17:26:34 PT
Virginia politics.
Cruel, wicked, ignorant, and stupid.They should have listened to Del. Morgan. They should have listened. They should have been about freedom.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 27, 2010 at 16:48:25 PT
Virginia Politics from The Washington Post Blog
Medical Marijuana Bill Dies Despite Surprise Support from Republican LeaderJanuary 27, 2010Virginia -- A House subcommittee has unceremoniously tabled a pair of bills that would have liberalized Virginia's marijuana laws, in effect killing them. One measure would have made possession of under one ounce of pot a civil infraction punishable with merely a $500 fine. The other would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for any medical condition, if the Federal government ever allows it. Virginia already has a law that says if FDA changes its rules on pot, doctors could prescribe marijuana for cancer and glaucoma.A few days ago, we wrote about how these bills were being viewed largely with humor in the conservative House of Delegates. But at today's subcommittee meeting, each received a lengthy and serious hearing. Their death was a surprise to no one.URL:
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on January 21, 2010 at 07:27:59 PT
Be free, citizens of Leadville!
Wish you could be free now and not have to wait until November.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 21, 2010 at 05:17:20 PT
Leadville Snowshoe
US CO: Leadville to vote on pot decriminalization 
Webpage: 21 Jan 2009Source: Summit Daily News (CO)Leadville to vote on pot decriminalizationLEADVILLE — Leadville may follow in the footsteps of Breckenridge come November by decriminalizing marijuana through a ballot initiative. A group of Leadville residents asked its government to decriminalize marijuana use at a city meeting Wednesday — the measure will now go to a vote of the people.According to Leadville city clerk Joe Swyers, approximately 20 people came to Wednesday's meeting to comment on the marijuana issue. He noted that almost half the speakers were for decriminalization.Swyers said Leadville will look at Breckenridge's experience with decriminalization throughout 2010. As of Jan. 1, Breckenridge's town code no longer criminalizes adult personal possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana for private use.The Breckenridge Town Council voted to put marijuana decriminalization on the ballot, and the final vote in November 2009 resulted in more than 70 percent in favor of decriminalization. Breckenridge was also the first Summit County town to draft a set of regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. 
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