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Thanks to the Virginia legislators supporting legalization of medical marijuana

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The District of Columbia and Maryland have decriminalized marijuana. The two jurisdictions have also moved forward in their own peculiar ways in giving limited protection to medical marijuana use. Neighboring Virginia lags far behind.

For marijuana consumers working in and near Washington, D.C., Virginia’s disadvantageous criminal law environment for marijuana use might be viewed as a good reason to live in Washington, D.C. or Maryland instead. I doubt any reliable survey has been done on whether that is correct, but if I were a marijuana consumer (I can count on one hand the number of times I have tried reefer, all before law school) and worked in D.C., I would seriously consider living in Washington, D.C. or Maryland, rather than Virginia.

At the Arlington, Virginia, Whole Foods, I recently bumped into a longtime and well-known marijuana legalization activist and marijuana consumer who works in Washington, D.C. I asked if he had considered moving to Washington, D.C., or Maryland from his Virginia home, to take advantage of the more favorable marijuana laws in D.C. and Maryland. He said he is staying put at his home near Arlington, Virginia, which indeed is more geographically convenient than Maryland to Washington, D.C., which remains the land of taxation without federal representation.

As otherwise conformist people push for legalizing marijuana as essential medicine for their loved ones, three Virginia legislators are promoting three different bills to legalize marijuana for either limited purposes or on a medical doctor’s recommendation. I like Delegate Kenneth R. Plum’s bill the best of the three, because his proposed bill would prohibit prosecution of marijuana possession that is pursuant to a doctor’s recommendation.

Virginia currently has no medical marijuana law, other than to enable acquittals for simple possession with a prescription, except that no doctor in the United States writes marijuana prescriptions, because prescribing marijuana risks a loss of one’s DEA license to prescribe medicine. Moreover, while marijuana remains prohibited in federal law, no pharmacy is going to carry marijuana to fill any prescription, even if a doctor wrote a marijuana prescription. Instead, in California and other medical marijuana states, doctors give the green light for medicinal marijuana by a written recommendation, not by a prescription.

As marijuana has become less criminalized, the sky has not fallen. Legalize it.