On Monday, SB 726 was given the proverbial green light by Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care and will now be headed to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam (D), where it is anticipated he will sign the bill into law.
An update now: The Virginia Senate has passed the medical marijuana bill 40-0. The bill will now move to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk, who has said he supports expanding the legal use of medical marijuana. https://t.co/2Tao8XDrVs
— WDBJ7 (@WDBJ7) February 5, 2018
The governor, a physician by trade, was an early and vocal advocate of making the state’s medical marijuana program more sympathetic and inclusive.
As Haley's doctor, Ralph knew that access to medical marijuana was one of her best chances at a better life. pic.twitter.com/03WaKSYWLc
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) April 19, 2017
The bill, introduced by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12th District), is more commonly referred to as “Let Doctors Decide.”
My legislation to #LetDoctorsDecide just passed the Senate with a 40-Y 0-N vote! I am so excited about helping providers gain access to every possible tool to help decrease their patients' suffering. Read more about this legislation below! https://t.co/9GMqjPWV0G pic.twitter.com/OHutniSS2l
— Siobhan Dunnavant (@Dunnavant4VA) February 5, 2018
A licensed OB/GYN, Sen. Dunnavant regards medical marijuana as a topic best addressed by other doctors – and not politicians. Dunnavant concluded physicians should be “the decision-makers” with regards to medical marijuana. A doctor first and a politician second, Dunnavant views the issue as a matter of physiology and science over politics and procrastination, according to a published report by News Leader.
“We, physicians, are the ones that follow the literature and know which treatments are best for different conditions. The literature on medical cannabis is going to be evolving rapidly now, and because of this, it is not a decision that should be in the hands of the legislature. Instead, it should be with physicians.”
Indeed; in Virginia, the use of medical marijuana is currently only protected by an affirmative defense from prosecution for a small pool of “seriously ill” patients. With the passage of both SB 726 and HB 1251, Virginians suffering from a host of debilitating ailments have moved one step closer to receiving access to medicinal cannabis.
Cover image courtesy of Thomas Hawk