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Why Virginia's Decriminalization Study Matters

Recently, the Virginia State Crime Commission agreed to undertake a study on decriminalization. From a perspective well-represented in comments on Facebook, decriminalization has been implemented around the country for nearly two decades. And, with the nationwide trend toward regulating both adult and medical use, why does Virginia still need a study? Why won’t Virginia lawmakers just move forward with the seemingly obvious solution of decriminalization? The answer lies in legislative procedure.

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Ralph Northam: Progress for Virginia’s Cannabis Policy

On March 28, 2017, Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam was in lively downtown Norfolk for a fundraising event hosted by several local residents at the art gallery and event space Work│Release. With cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, the atmosphere was that of a classy celebration. Despite recent events and elections viewed unfavorably by the gathered democratic supporters, this event focused on hopeful future longed for by most Americans. Ralph Northam made his case for why he was the man to bring Virginia to that future.

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Virginia's Emerging Regulated Cannabis Industry: Next Stop, Norfolk

You can only do something the first time once. For the first time, Virginia is implementing rules and regulations that will allow the creation of a regulated medical marijuana industry in Virginia. The executive director of Virginia NORML traveled to Norfolk for a presentation on the ins and outs of the new law.

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Decriminalize Virginia Beach at City Council

On March 7th, Decriminalize Virginia Beach’s first event was a success. Why? Because it happened. For an issue to be discussed by a city council, it must be brought before the city council. After over 25 years of living in this city, I have finally realized the power of speaking truth to power in a professional presentation. With only three minutes, it also had to be concise.

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Hampton NAACP Forum on Marijuana Decriminalization

Hampton Roads includes nine independent Virginia cities, with the Chesapeake Bay dividing the Southside and the Peninsula. Much like the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel connects these two regions, the rising support for decriminalization is uniting communities across Southeastern Virginia.

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Republican Lt. Governor Candidates on Marijuana Reform

Although the Virginia Beach Tea Party does not generally invoke thoughts of marijuana reform, thankfully, this is not the case. At a forum sponsored by the group, three Republican Lieutenant Governor candidates squared off to highlight their individual strengths. To be blunt, there were significant differences, particularly on the topic of marijuana policy.

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Star Exponent: Culpeper 10th graders debate marijuana legalization

Alison Brophy Champion of the The Culpeper Star Exponent reports on Eastern View High School's tenth grade English assignment: Should marijuana be legalized in Virginia for recreational use?

Culpeper County resident Pam Novy, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, felt the discussion at Eastern View High School was appropriate, noting that people of all ages are talking about it.

“This is a topic young people discuss regularly when the adults are not around, so I think this particular teacher is very astute to tap into that,” Novy said Tuesday. “This is a current event that will influence the upcoming elections, and high school sophomores are on the precipice of becoming voters, so this is an excellent time to teach them the value of dissecting issues relevant to our country and community.”

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WVTF: State Lawmakers Debate Medical Marijuana

WVTF's Sandy Hausman reports on the Virginia Senate's recent passage of a bill to allow cancer patients to use cannabidiol, an oil derived from the marijuana plant.

"The director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ Virginia chapter cheered, but Pam Novy thinks the state would do well to pass a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill that includes people with chronic pain, PTSD and other conditions that have been successfully treated with pot."

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Star Exponent: House GOP favors criminal penalties for marijuana possession

Alison Brophy Champion of the The Culpeper Star Exponent reports on the House GOP's recent refusal to advance marijuana reform.

"The Republican-led House Courts of Justice this week tabled various marijuana-related proposals, including one to decriminalize it. But Virginia NORML Director Pam Novy, of Culpeper, said that would not set back the state’s marijuana reform movement."

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House Republicans Favor Criminal Penalties for Simple Marijuana Possession

 

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There were a historic 21 marijuana-related bills presented in the Virginia General Assembly this year. Unfortunately, most were dead on arrival in the Virginia House of Delegates. Each of the 6 expungement bills, both decriminalization bills, and the drivers license decrim bill, heard by the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law subcommittee were killed along party lines, with Republicans voting to table each of the 9 pieces of legislation. Vivienne Smith, the Director of the Virginia chapter of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition stated that she was disappointed the republicans on the committee so swiftly tabled bills supported by the majority of Virginians. “It’s unfortunate that the republicans in the House aren’t being more pragmatic. Marijuana is now a mainstream topic of debate and will only become more so as we approach the 2016 elections. Holding steadfast to the notion that marijuana users are criminals will only hurt our party.”

Pam Novy, the Executive Director of Virginia NORML, states that she remains optimistic, in spite of the recent setback. “While the likelihood of advancing similar legislation now in the Senate has certainly decreased, it’s clear that many republican lawmakers see the need for change. Many are now willing to admit, at least privately, that criminalizing a substance that’s been used by nearly half of Virginians is simply wrong.”

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Virginia NORML shows lawmakers that cannabis reform is a SERIOUS issue for constituents RIGHT NOW.

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