A Virginia lawmaker's proposal to study the possibility of selling marijuana through state-run liquor stores has gone up in smoke.
The joint resolution from Democratic Delegate David Englin of Alexandria was tabled on a voice vote Thursday night in a subcommittee of the House Rules Committee.
Under the resolution, eight members of the General Assembly would have been selected to head a study on the feasibility of legalizing the use and sale of marijuana under certain conditions, and regulating that sale through the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Findings would have been due by the first day of the 2013 legislative session.
Another resolution to get the governor to petition the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug also failed earlier this week.
Englin, who said he does not use marijuana, cited states with medical marijuana laws, societal changes and the need for more revenue amid moves to cut funding for core services across Virginia. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The resolutions in Virginia were among a growing list of recommendations across the country to reform laws regarding the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. Advocates for reforming marijuana laws say 25 to 30 states will entertain bills on the issue this year.
Supporters of the proposals say they're not surprised by the outcome but are glad the issue is getting attention.
Ed McCann, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the committee members took supporters seriously and were able to have a true discussion on the issue. McCann, however, said that elected officials seem to be “tone deaf” to the changing public view of marijuana use.
Fourteen states already have some kind of decriminalization law, and 16 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws in place.
“The skies don't fall, people aren't all out on the road stoned (and) causing havoc. ... It's not creating a big issue, yet it does bring in significant revenue,” McCann said. “I think that our frustration is just that elected officials continue to try to brush this under the rug, even when, when what we see, it's not a political liability. ... They're just not in tune with the times.”
In 2010, then-Delegate Harvey Morgan, a Republican from Gloucester County, startled colleagues and endured ribbing from both parties when he introduced a dead-on-arrival bill to decriminalize possession of marijuana. He also sponsored legislation to broaden the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. A late-1970s Virginia law allows for medical marijuana for cancer and glaucoma patients.