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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.

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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