The Cannabis Commonwealth Coalition has formed to unite the many individuals and organizations in Virginia working to reform medical marijuana legislation by ending the criminal prosecution of patients, and establishing a regulated medical marijuana program.

In 1979 Virginia passed one of our nation’s first medical marijuana laws, allowing for cancer and glaucoma patients to use cannabis with a “prescription.” Thirty-six years later, Virginia still affords patients zero access to this life-saving medication, and with some of the toughest penalties in the country, Virginia patients and their families who choose to use cannabis face arrest, fines, and jail time if caught possessing any form of marijuana. Due to the current Schedule I status of cannabis, it remains federally illegal for a physician to prescribe medical marijuana. http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/18.2-251.1/

In 2015, an “affirmative defense” bill was signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe allowing intractable epilepsy patients and their caregivers to present a certificate signed by the treating physician as a defense against prosecution if caught in possession of cannabidiol or THC-A oil containing 15% CBD and no more than 5% THC. This means after you have been arrested, paid for an attorney, had your property and medicine seized, and possibly your children taken from you, your case may be dismissed when you finally get your day in court. http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title54.1/chapter34/section54.1-3408.3/

Neither Virginia law provides any way for patients to legally acquire medical marijuana. Even if a physician did write a federally illegal prescription, there are no dispensaries in Virginia. It remains illegal to grow your own plants or manufacture your own cannabis oil. It remains illegal to transport cannabis and cannabis products across state lines. The Commonwealth’s legislature has clearly recognized the necessity for medical marijuana, but still chooses to force its constituents to risk interstate drug-trafficking charges or obtain their medicine from black market dealers. Millions of Americans are enjoying safe, legal access to quality, regulated medical marijuana products today. Why don’t Virginians deserve the same?

As we work together to reform our medical marijuana laws, we must consider the following critical points:
  • Legislators are not healthcare providers. They have no business dictating protocols or compound percentages.
  • Cannabis is scientifically proven to be beneficial in the treatment of many conditions beyond cancer, glaucoma, and epilepsy. The law should be expanded to include any medical condition deemed appropriate by a patient and their health care provider.
  • THC is a necessary component of “whole plant” cannabinoid therapies and therefore must not be demonized for its psychoactivity.
  • Keeping patients out of jail and children with their families are the most important reforms for which we can strive.