(Alexandria, VA) – Today, a bill to establish a commercial marijuana market in Virginia died in a House of Delegates Subcommittee. This tremendous victory for public health follows a year-long push by the marijuana industry to pass a bill supported by the industry and its investors, including the Big Tobacco giant Altria.
A broad coalition including Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), law enforcement and public safety officials, and public health groups led the opposition to the bill and celebrate its defeat.
“The passage of this bill would have been a huge gift to Big Pot, but a calamitous loss to public health, safety, and commonsense. As such, today’s vote in the House of Delegates is a resounding victory,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “Our coalition made clear to lawmakers that the industry-drafted proposal to begin commercial sales in Virginia was a non-starter as it failed to resolve the myriad issues related to increased use, impaired driving, and the underground market. We are honored to have been a part of the discussion and we applaud Virginia’s lawmakers for standing with the health, science, and safety communities over the interests of Big Pot.”
“This is a victory for public safety and families across Virginia. A new addiction-for-profit industry is the last thing our state needs as we contend with the opioid crisis,” said Dana Schrad, Executive Director of Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Foundation, Inc. “We commend our lawmakers for making the right decision.”
A poll conducted earlier this year found that when given the full spectrum of options on marijuana policy, 62% of Americans voters opposed the creation of a commercial marijuana market. The defeat of this bill, and today’s defeat of legalization in South Dakota, confirm that the belief that legalization is inevitable is false. When presented with the facts about marijuana commercialization, states reject Big Pot.
We are ready to fight commercialization next year when another attempt will be made to legalize sales.