Since California became the first US state to pass laws allowing cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes, more states have enacted similar laws.
These include 27 states and the Districts of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
It seems that Virginia is gradually moving in the same direction.
The state senate recently approved legislation that would make cannabis products available for the treatment of numerous medical conditions.
The bill passed recently will include cancer, glaucoma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, HIV & AIDS, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, complex regional pain syndrome, and nail patella in the list of conditions that can be treated using cannabidiol oil (CBD) and THC-A oil.
Cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil are extracts of the cannabis plant.
The current laws in Virginia only allow cannabis use for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.
The Senate Bill 1298 was co-sponsored by Senator Barbara A.
Favola and Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel.
It was an amendment to a previous bill that made it easier for severely epileptic patients to access the cannabis oil.
It is important to note that cannabidiol oil is not a psychotropic substance; users cannot get the conventional cannabis high when using it.
Despite this fact, the bill still saw opposition following a thorough debate.
11 out of 40 Virginia senators present voted against the bill.
Among those who opposed the bill were Senators Richard H. Black and Mark D. Obenshain.
Richard Black’s primary concern was the gradual movement towards cannabis legalization.
He argued with a statement regarding the proliferation of cannabis in the army back in the 1960s.
Black, who happens to be a Vietnam veteran, touched on the ill effects he noted at the time.
However, proponents of the bill were quick to point out that the cannabis oils in question were not psychotropic substances.
As such, Black’s sentiments were misplaced and baseless in that respect.
Senator Richard L. Saslaw jibed at the exaggerated claim that America would turn into a nation of potheads if medicinal cannabis were to be widely legalized.
Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel shared the same sentiments, stating that medical usage of cannabis for chronic diseases does not risk public safety.
She also added that the cannabis oil does not have any adverse side effects and is a necessity for the severely affected patients.
Mark Obenshain took issue with the supposed lack of scientific evidence on the beneficial effects of medicinal cannabis on the proposed conditions.
This, however, is not true as there are numerous studies indicating that cannabis alleviates some of the symptoms associated with the aforementioned medical conditions.
According to Vogel’s statement, there is both clinical and anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis oil in all of diseases identified in the legislation.
This new legislation does not seek to legalize the use of the oil.
Rather, it is meant to provide a defense for people found in possession of cannabis oils.
Treatment of the included conditions will be a valid defense against prosecution for those diagnosed with the conditions.
Several other bills have also been tabled that seek to expand the medical marijuana use as well as relax the penalties for possession.
The senate has already passed one bill allowing pharmacists to provide marijuana for medicinal purposes, and another to discontinue the automatic suspension of licenses of adult drivers due to simple possession.
This new bill still has a long way to go as it heads to the House of Delegates.
While these bills are a step in the right direction as far as medical marijuana is concerned, the state of Virginia will not likely decriminalize marijuana anytime soon.