Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Virginia State News

April 30, 2014

Griffith seeking legalization; Lawmaker introduces Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act

WASHINGTON — A Southwest Virginia lawmaker is seeking to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., said Tuesday he has introduced the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act. The bill would prohibit the federal government from preventing the prescription, possession, transportation, and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes in compliance with applicable state law.

Griffith, who spoke to the Daily Telegraph regarding the controversial measure, said the proposed law also would reclassify marijuana from a schedule I drug to a schedule II drug.

“It’s a simple bill that I think needs to be passed, and would help doctors and would help patients,” Griffith said. “Unlike what I call the crazy Colorado method, it requires a doctor to give a prescription so that you get the drug in the right dosage. The first step is we get the bill passed and that gives drug manufactures time to start doing things they need to do to prepare this for the market. It would be a real prescription by a real doctor. And the hope would be you could get the substance from a pharmacy.”

Griffith said the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), which became law in 1970, provides for the current classification of marijuana. He adds that in 1979 the state of Virginia passed measures to permit the use of marijuana for the purposes of treating cancer or glaucoma.  However, this is blocked by the current federal law, which Griffith’s bill would alleviate.

When asked if he expected to receive criticism over the measure, including possible complaints from constituents back home in the Ninth Congressional District where headlines regarding a rampant prescription drug abuse problem are common, Griffith said introducing the bill is “a risk.”

“There is a risk, and I recognize that, but one cannot lead if you aren’t willing to take some risks and fight for things you think are right,” Griffith said. “I think this is a conservative and responsible approach to allow doctors and patients to use this as a tool.”

Griffith, a Republican, said he isn’t confident about the chances of the measure passing the GOP-controlled House.

“I think it faces a number of road blocks,” Griffith said. “But I have drafted it in a conservative fashion that will appeal to a lot of folks on the Republican side. I don’t think it will pass this year, but I felt we had to get it out there. I think we have a good chance in the future.”

Griffith said he knew someone in his past who was suffering from cancer, and could have benefited from the use of medical marijuana.

“This man had a 2-year-old child and wanted to do all in his power to spend as much time as possible with his child,” Griffith said. “Every moment was important to him. I was told by his friends that his doctors instructed hospital staff to not go into his room between 11 a.m. and noon. His friends would sneak marijuana into the hospital for him to use medically during that time. Doing so gave him the appetite and ability to eat his lunch, which arrived at noon, thus increasing his strength and giving him potentially more time with his child and other loved ones.”

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