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Del. Harvey Morgan, R-Gloucester, knows his efforts to relax Virginia marijuana laws face an uphill battle in the General fake omega watches Assembly, where folks typically like to brandish tough-on-crime credentials.

The longtime lawmaker is expecting some blow back - especially from fellow Republicans - for suggesting that the state decriminalized weed and also broaden the ways Virginians can use medical marijuana. But as a pharmacist, Morgan said he felt he should bring up the idea. don't think either one will go very far to be honest," Morgan said Monday. "I've never smoked marijuana myself, but I'm a pharmacist so I feel I should be carrying this kind of legislation."

Morgan said he planning a press conference in the next few days to discuss his bills. One bill House bill 1134 make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil infraction with a $500 fine - instead of a felony with a 30-day sentence. The second bill - House bill 1136 - broaden the state medical marijuana statute which only Replica Omega Watches currently covers folks suffering from cancer or glaucoma.

Morgan proposals are going to a tough time especially the state courts of justice committees, but he already getting some attention from marijuana advocates.

The folks at the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws noticed Morgan proposal

Don expect Virginia lawmakers to suddenly jump on board with more relaxed marijuana laws, but it is interesting to see how the movement is gaining momentum nationally - especially out west. The real question becomes how long does it take for these more mellow attitudes about pot to migrate east.

Here a great national story on marijuana legalization efforts in the Wall Street Journal.

And already an analyst for the group named "Common Sense for Drug Policy" has penned an opinion piece backing the case - made in 700 words from Robert Sharpe of the organization. not just left coast states like California and Washington that are considering marijuana law reforms to help balance state budgets. For the first time in years, the Virginia General Assembly will consider common sense marijuana law reform. House Bill 1134 would replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil penalty of $500. The bill's sponsor is no dope-smoking hippy, in fact he is uniquely qualified to push the envelope. Delegate Harvey Morgan is a Republican member of the Virginia General Assembly and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University's medical school. His bill is grounded in legitimate clinical expertise and much needed fiscal conservatism.

Marijuana decriminalization would reap tens of millions of dollars, saving the jobs of police, firefighters and teachers in the process. There were 19,911 marijuana arrests in Virginia in 2008. Those arrests would have generated $9,955,500 in revenue if a civil penalty of $500 were in place. Instead, almost twenty thousand people were burdened with criminal records. The opportunity costs associated with the zero tolerance approach are tremendous. Police, Court and jail time, not to mention the the lost tax revenue from busted users who now face lifelong diminished employment opportunities, together represent untold millions of tax dollars down the drain.

Culture warriors who favor criminalizing Virginians who prefer marijuana to martinis will no doubt oppose HB 1134. They'll claim that marijuana use will skyrocket if the bill becomes law. Not true. Studies show that states that have decriminalized marijuana do not have higher rates of use than states that penalize users. Marijuana penalties have little, if any, impact on rates of use. actually has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available to adults over 18.

Opponents will further claim that drug treatment programs are filled with marijuana "addicts." This claim is a subtle form of modern reefer madness. The truth is that record numbers of citizens arrested for marijuana possession have been forced into treatment by our criminal justice system. The resulting distortion of treatment statistics is used by shameless drug warriors to make the claim that marijuana is "addictive."

The jail-threat coercion of marijuana consumers into treatment says a lot about government priorities, but absolutely nothing about the relative harms of marijuana. If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal already. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused, but criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

Of course, the biggest drug war ruse of all is the infamous "gateway" theory. Opponents of marijuana law reform will inevitably claim that marijuana is a "gateway" drug, the use of which leads to heroin and crack addiction. HB 1134 contains incentives for small scale personal cultivation that would lead consumers to grow their own. That's a good thing. Organized crime would take a big hit.

We should be undermining drug cartels, not subsidizing them. The drug war distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand causes big money to grow on little trees. And as long as drug cartels control marijuana cultivation and distribution, consumers will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition. HB 1134 is a long overdue step in the right direction. At a time when state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers, Virginia continues to squander scarce public resources criminalizing otherwise law-abiding marijuana consumers who hold jobs, pay taxes and raise families.

Fiscally conservative Republicans who believe in liberty and limited government support marijuana decriminalization. Democrats who privately support marijuana law reform but live in fear of the soft-on-drugs label need to get smart-on-drugs, grow a spine already and get behind this bill. They've got a Republican leading the way for them. HB 1134 deserves broad bi-partisan support. Looming budget cuts threaten public safety, education and health. Virginia can no longer afford to subsidize the prejudices of culture warriors.

That droopy eyelid thing you refer to is called age. we all get that as we get older. I have smoked cannabis from a younger age than i think any one should be allowed to and was asked for id to purchase alcohol well into my late 30 The truth about cannabis will never be told by the govt. They have known since 1974 that it will reduce cancer tumors and have tried to keep this form the public all the while saying it may cause cancer . No one not in 5000 yrs of medical recreational or spiritual use has ever died of a overdose of cannabis. allowing people to grow 5-10 of their own plants would devistate the drug cartels profits as a whole 1/2 of them come from cannabis sales leaving them much less profits to put into protecting thier hard drugs sale that by the way the govt has done nothing in 40 yrs to curtail

I have never tried the stuff, mostly because smoking anything, is to me, a repulsive act. However, like many who fiercely opposed legalization in years past, I would like to see if there is now a substantial body of medical evidence available that supports legalization.

We have anecdotal evidence that heavy pot use leads to that all too familiar "burnt-out" look, characterized most often by the droopy eyelids, that give users that perpetually drowsy look, but anecdotal observations are not enough. The citizens need to see objective, clinical evidence that can confirm the safe use of pot, both for the user (including effects on reproductive health) before Virginia moves toward legalization.

Mr. Marshall bill is premature without a substantial body of evidence based on long term, officiated clinical trials, that can demonstrate the possibility of safe use. If safe use can be demonstrated, Virginians should support full legalization, and not a half measure, such as that proposed by Mr. Marshall.

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