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High on Capitol Hill: 'I Will Always Be Able to Buy Pot from Friends Who Work on the Hill'

Members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law addressed the Fairfax County legislative delegation this weekend.

Margaret Boyne, a retired IT consultant, asked state lawmakers to consider the immediate decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia and the eventual legalization. Screen grab from public hearing video distributed by NORML
Margaret Boyne, a retired IT consultant, asked state lawmakers to consider the immediate decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia and the eventual legalization. Screen grab from public hearing video distributed by NORML

Riding the high, so to speak, of Colorado's legalization of the recreational use of cannabis, six members of the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, spoke before the Fairfax County legislative delegation over the weekend.

In the video above, you can hear murmurs in the crowd when the topic is first broached.

"I've always thought marijuana prohibition was foolish, but I never really thought about fighting it," said Margaret Boyne, a retired IT consultant. "After all, I'm white. I'm middle-aged. Suburban. I will always be able to buy pot from friends who work on the Hill, or at State or at any of several DC law firms. I really don't have any personal stake in this debate."

Boyne got a chuckle when she explained that 1 gram of pot equals about 1 tablespoon for the state lawmakers who aren't familiar. Statistically, she said, at least one of the state delegates and senators was a casual pot smoker.

She told a story of a sister-in-law and a friend of the family, both of whom have Parkinson's disease. The illness can cause debilitating muscle cramps, insomnia and loss of appetite, among other things.

Boyne said her sister-in-law lives in Colorado, where she is able to use pot to enjoy her life as a successful artist. But the family friend lives in Arlington, and he's terrified to try it because marijuana use, even medicinal, is still illegal in Virginia.

Several stories followed.

The marijuana advocates argued that keeping pot criminal has a disproportionate affect on minorities and that it weighs down law enforcement and judicial dockets, taking time and resources away from "real crimes."

"The only true harm from the use of marijuana occurs when you get caught with marijuana," said Duane Ludwig, an MIT graduate and aerospace engineer who lives in the Falls Church area.

They also argued that marijuana laws perpetuate a black market that gives children easier access to drugs.

"Drug dealers do not check IDs. But ABCs and responsible businesses do," said Frederick Cassiday.

Ludwig said the group proposed decriminalization — perhaps making a marijuana possession charge comparable to a parking ticket — as a "near-term compromise."

Boyne asked lawmakers to consider the immediate decriminalization of marijuana, followed by the eventual legalization.

Andy Ludwig said he had many friends who have recently come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and that they had found marijuana was the best treatment for PTSD, thanks to fewer bad side effects. 

"When you can get returning soldiers to relax, or even laugh — it's darn close to a miracle," he said. "… So, in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, who grew it, Virginia should take steps to re-legalize marijuana."

The video above was distributed by the local NORML chapter.

What do you think? Should Virginia decriminalize marijuana? Is medicinal marijuana acceptable under any circumstance? Tell us in the comments below.

kathleen fergus January 07, 2014 at 08:55 AM
Of course it should be decriminalized. It is a backward, ridiculous law. Medical marijuana should be acceptable under any circumstances. Why not? Look at the medicines that are acceptable and some of their dangerous side effects. Look at the harmful effects of govt approved GMO foods. It is a wonder that the decriminalization or even legalization of marijuana is still in question. But, even so, I would still prefer to get it from 'the guy on the corner', then from some govt controlled source.
keith mahone January 07, 2014 at 01:47 PM
Criminalization is a regulatory tool used to create an artificial shortage and a subsequent price floor, for an otherwise cheaper-than-dirt commodity, so that powerful interests among America's elite families can charge their client traffickers a premium for access to the market of U.S. consumers. It's also handy as a tool for perpetuating the lucrative, but futile "war on drugs", a boon to entrenched government contractors and those who receive their kickbacks in exchange for flooding their businesses with a deluge of wasted cash. It's also a great way to pump money into law enforcement, the legal services sector and prison industries, benefiting cops, lawyers, judges, parole officers, prison guards, prison concessionaires, etc. It's called a command economy. It's Econ (and tyranny) 101. If possession were decriminalized, but irresponsible use handled like anything similar, all marijuana growers and traffickers would instantly go broke, all the derivative crimes (many violent crimes and larcenies) would evaporate along with innumerable family fortunes among the ruling class. And billions of wasted dollars would be released into the economy for capitalization of useful endeavors by worthy entrepreneurs enabled by free-choice-making citizens in a free market, rather than having that money allocated (to themselves and their friends) by greedy elitists and plutocrats according to their inefficient and criminal political decisions. U.S. drug policy is set in place by a fraternity of psychopaths who are more dangerous than any other group of people who have ever lived, including so-called terrorists and narco-traffickers, all of whom only exist as the natural consequence of their deliberate policies. They know exactly what they're doing. Now go back to sleep, children.
keith mahone January 07, 2014 at 04:30 PM
Kathy, get your head out of the THC fog. I'm not a pot head like you. I'm only interested in freedom and justice. Lots of things that are bad for you should be legal. Because you have the right to be WRONG - if it harms no one else. In this case, the proscription of marijuana is a greater threat to peace and freedom and justice than the spread of marijuana use, for the reasons stated. I don't know why you think I'm a moron. Is it because you don't think the country is run by psychopaths or because you hate the free market? Or is it because you don't think the population is largely comprised of etherized children? What am I missing? I think you should stop smoking pot and take a stand against tyranny in all forms for the benefit of everyone. Simply arguing for your own pleasure and self-indulgence is why the people I've described people are in control.
kathleen fergus January 07, 2014 at 04:45 PM
I think you are a moron, because you ended a perfectly stated argument with the line, "Now go back to sleep, children." The insult was unnecessary. You received the kind of response you deserved. Any further conversation with you, is a waste of time.
keith mahone January 07, 2014 at 05:36 PM
Kathy, you are so wise. Thanks for playing net nanny. Smoke a big bowl for me. You have such a gentle spirit. Is that what you tell yourself when you're all stoked up? Relax, do some yoga. Listen to some bootleg Grateful Dead mix tapes. You're better than me. Bask in it. Take a deep breath . . . exhale, better than me.
Duane Ludwig January 07, 2014 at 06:41 PM
I think it's clear by now that you both have some childish aspects. Let's turn that sniping into something positive -- please contact your state lawmakers and ensure that they know that marijuana law reform is a REAL issue, and it needs to pass out of committee (for once) so it can be debated by the entire General Assembly. Don't waste the efforts of me and my colleagues with petty bickering -- save it for our regressive state legislature! Thanks.
keith mahone January 07, 2014 at 07:28 PM
Hey, Duane, you are a sociopath. She tried to high-road me and then you pile on and try to high-road both of us. I commented on the story and you both commented on me. Do any more nut cases want to crawl out of the woodwork? You have "colleagues"? Where did you learn a big word like that? Frankly, at this point, I don't care if all pot smokers are tied to poles and bayonetted. This is not some little game where you win the magic bong and eternal happiness in a cloud of lunacy. It's about total control of everyone everywhere. Illegal marijuana is just a sympton of a much larger issue. But I guess a guy like you would be delighted if you could just prance down Main Street with your Birkenstocks and your Ben & Jerriy's tie-dye in a cloud of refer smoke. You kids are all alike, selfish as hell. Nice tree you've got in your sights there. Welcome to the forest, jerk.
Frederick C. Cassiday January 08, 2014 at 10:15 AM
A serious subject, changing the laws, deserves serious dialogue. We do no good with stereo typing people with vicious personal attacks. Laws that do more harm to society than good, need to be changed. Please, lets keep the discussion civil and rational.
kathleen fergus January 08, 2014 at 10:21 AM
I honestly believe the law should be changed. It has gone past it's sell by date. The idea that tax $$s are spent on keeping people in prison for smoking marijuana is ridiculous. It is a proven fact that marijuana can ease the suffering caused by many illnesses. Why continue to prevent this?
peg boyne January 08, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Did you know that in the Commonwealth of VA, if you are busted for marijuana, your driver's license is suspended for 6 months, regardless of whether you were busted while driving? This is thanks to the Solomon-Lautenberg amendment, passed at the federal level in 1991(?). Many states have opted out of Solomon-Lautenberg. Why can't Virginia? ...and this is just ONE of the many ridiculous impacts of our MJ laws. We need reform. We need it now. The federally determined drunk driving laws require 3-month license-suspensions for individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. Why should individuals convicted of smoking marijuana in their living rooms lose their driver's licenses for twice as long as those convicted of driving drunk? There are absolutely no public safety benefits to counterbalance all of the aforementioned negative consequences.* *I copy/pasted this last paragraph from I am copy/pasting from http://www.hoboes.com/pub/Prohibition/Crime%20and%20Punishment/Solomon-Lautenberg/Smoke%20a%20Joint%20Analysis/
Duane Ludwig January 08, 2014 at 12:49 PM
Kathleen (and anyone else reading these crazy comments) -- please join our cause! We (NORML) meet tomorrow (Thursday) at Bailey's Pub in Ballston Mall at 8pm, and every first Thursday in general. Find us on Facebook (NOVA NORML) or the web (virginianorml.org) and help to end this nonsense sooner rather than later. (Please, no conspiracy crazies, though)
keith mahone January 08, 2014 at 03:35 PM
Duane Ludwig hosts a group of Pot Smokers and asks that no crazy people show up. Maybe you'd like to come to my Mensa Group after that. But be advised: You can't have an IQ above 70 points. What's wrong with this picture?
keith mahone January 08, 2014 at 04:34 PM
Peg, there are a lot of bizarre linkages under the law like this. If you're a felon you can't vote, own a firearm or have a firearm present in your home - even if your crime had nothing to do with guns or violence. The government, it seems, can't wait to take away your right to vote or own a gun at the drop of a hate. What are they afraid of? Here's one thing: Smoking pot is bad for the economy. You're supposed to be perpetually dissatisfied and unable to understand or internalize the concept of "enough". Imagine what irritating peddlers of every kind, big and small, stand to lose if you were as happy as a clam just walking down the street blowing a joint and talking to your friends (especially if you could do it for the price of snipping weeds in your own yard). They could always tax it, but once it's legal they could never proscribe home growing for private use. Also, marijuana growers and traffickers who reap huge profits by taking risks put tremendous pressure on legislatures to keep it illegal. Can you imagine, insisting that the government declare your business illegal so you could maintain an unnecessary price floor and maximize profitability? That's the kind of lunacy surrounding this issue.
Joe Lorton January 12, 2014 at 06:43 PM
Marijuana has been medically legal in Virginia since 1979. However, one needs a prescription to obtain it in Virginia and marijuana is listed as schedule 1 drug, with no medicinal use by the federal government. Look it up. Schedule 1 drugs can't be prescribed and until it comes off the schedule 1 list, or only requires a "recommendation" from a doctor as the other 20 plus states and DC do, we're out of luck. If you doubt me then do your research.
Joe Lorton January 12, 2014 at 06:47 PM
Go to MPP.org Under the "Take Action" link you can fill in form letters to our lawmakers with ease.
kathleen fergus January 13, 2014 at 08:33 AM
It is completely absurd that marijuana should be listed as a Schedule 1 drug. Putting it in the same class of drugs as heroin makes no sense

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