Medical marijuana on the horizon in Virginia?

Rand Paul’s CARERS act is gaining momentum in the U.S. Senate and, if Grassley allows it to come to a vote, it is quite possible that we could see medical marijuana in Virginia immediately upon passage. The CARERS act deals with medical marijuana by changing it from a Schedule I controlled substance, which delineates no legitimate medical value to the drug, to a Schedule II controlled substance, which indicates some legitimate medical uses exist. Notably, there are very few Schedule I drugs, and most of them are hallucinogens that are generally considered quite dangerous.  Cocaine and most opiates such morphine as are Schedule II drugs, while morphine’s close cousin heroin, Ecstasy, bath salts and LSD are Schedule I.

As Schedule II drugs have legitimate medical uses, they can be legally sold for such uses. For instance, even cocaine may be prescribed as a local anesthetic for dentistry and other uses.  Once the drug can be prescribed, it can be legally sold – and that means legally taxed without running into IRS Code 280E. The potential revenue being lost to the Federal Government from what would likely be a multi-billion dollar industry, coupled with the legitimate State’s rights arguments that many now espouse should allow even the most staunch conservatives to re-evaluate their position on the issue. In fact, Virginia conservatives should remember that our own Morgan Griffith was ahead of the game on this, nearly a year ago proposing legislation to reschedule Marijuana.

The interesting item about current Virginia law, is that we are already set up to allow medical marijuana to be sold in the Commonwealth. Virginia Code § 18.2-251.1, creates an exception to illegal marijuana possession “when that possession occurs pursuant to a valid prescription issued by a medical doctor in the course of his professional practice for treatment of cancer or glaucoma.” Similar language allows doctors and pharmacists to prescribe/distribute marijuana for those reasons. The only thing holding back medical marijuana in Virginia (at least for cancer and glaucoma patients) is the federal Schedule I classification. That means the CARERS act would legalize medical marijuana in Virginia with no further action of our General Assembly.

So as Congressman Griffith has noted, state’s rights is a legitimate question when Virginian’s consider medical marijuana. Currently, the federal government is curtailing the rights of Virginians and the will of the general assembly when it comes to the Category I scheduling that the CARERS act would remedy.