Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who recently gained national notoriety after a photo emerged of him sitting next to Willie Nelson and a jar of the singer’s own cannabis line “Willie’s Reserve,” says he would like to legalize a statewide medical marijuana program in 2017, but he doesn’t have a lot of confidence the state legislature is prepared to take the plunge.
On Wednesday, during an interview with WTOP radio, McAuliffe was asked his position with respect the marijuana reform and whether he would support a bill aimed at bringing legal weed to the Mother of States.
“I do not support legalization of marijuana in Virginia,” McAuliffe responded. “I do support it for medicinal purposes. I will sign any bill you can get to me, because I’m a big believer in that.”
While the governor’s comments suggest bold changes could be on the horizon next year for the state’s marijuana laws, don’t hold you breath. McAuliffe told WTOP that he is not convinced the Virginia General Assembly has enough guts to put on medical marijuana bill on his desk before he leaves office next fall.
“I can’t imagine that they are chomping at the bit to get a marijuana legalization bill through next January,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”
It is no surprise that Governor McAuliffe is a supporter of medical marijuana. Over the past couple of years, he has signed legislation into law allowing patients suffering from epilepsy to gain access to low-THC strains of cannabis oil. It is only apparent after his latest comments on the subject that he would have likely signed a more comprehensive medical marijuana plan in to action had the legislature stepped up at some point with a more worthy proposal.
But even with some of the latest polling data suggesting that a hard majority of the Virginia voters support putting an end to prohibition, McAuliffe says he is in no way ready to go that direction. He says that’s because he worries it would create similar problems to what he is seeing happen in legal states, like Colorado, yet he did not elaborate on the exact nature of those issues.
“At some point, revenue is not worth the cost, the human cost, the human toll, what it does to your workforce,” he said.
Perhaps the Virginia General Assembly will begin to loosen up a bit once a number of additional states put marijuana laws on the books in the next couple of months. Several jurisdictions, including Arkansas Florida, and North Dakota, will vote on medical marijuana later this fall.