“WHEREAS, as society changes, products that were deemed illegal at one time are made legal and even sold by stores that are operated by government agencies in the attempt to control the sale of the products”
This is how Virginia Delegate David Englin (D) begins HJR140, a resolution to create a subcommittee to “study the potential revenue impact on the Commonwealth of legalizing the sale and use of marijuana, with certain restrictions and conditions, and selling it through Virginia's ABC stores.” If passed, the subcommittee would work during the next year to complete its work by December 2012, with a summary of its findings and recommendations due by the start of the 2013 legislative session.
The bill would not lead to any new policies on marijuana in Virginia. It would, however, open the door to future legislative changes by providing a government sponsored study of the effects of legalization, decriminalization, or medical use.
Delegate Englin, who represents parts of DC suburbs Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax, has yet to gather co-sponsors for the bill. He told local radio station WTOP that getting his bill passed would be a difficult effort with current Republican leadership and that he sees this as a long term effort.
Still, the bill isn’t a total lost cause. Legislatures are much more comfortable studying an issue than they are proposing it in legislation and there may be sympathetic delegates on both sides of the aisle interested in seeing if such a proposal could make a dent in the $4 billion dollar budget shortfall over the next two years.
However, the bill allocates $15,000 for the study, which will be an easy way for Republican leadership to ignore it or shoot it down. Finding a way around this fiscal commitment may be a way to get the ball rolling down a more sensible marijuana policy in the Commonwealth.
h/t to Todd Wynn