Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jan 2012
Source: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)
Copyright: 2012 The Virginian-Pilot
Author: Kerry Dougherty, Columnist, The Virginian-Pilot


It wouldn't be wintertime in Virginia unless at least one politician
arrived in Richmond carrying a bill so wacky that it's guaranteed to
garner headlines. And almost no support.

Meet Del. David Englin, from Alexandria, who's cooked up this
session's juiciest slice of crazy.

If you think it's odd that the state is in the business of selling
booze, just wait. Englin is noodling with something else for the ABC


His joint resolution, HJ140, calls for the commonwealth to study the
revenue it would rake in if pot were legalized and sold in ABC stores.

This irony-impaired measure calls for the formation of a "joint"
subcommittee to consider the possibility of selling cannabis alongside
Crown Royal.

Five delegates and three senators would constitute Englin's joint
committee, which would be allowed to meet just six times this year and
spend no more than $15,040 in an attempt to predict just how much
money the state would rake in if it legalized pot.

When I phoned the delegate's office Tuesday, I spoke with his chief of
staff, John Golden, who didn't seem to be operating under any illusion
that the measure - which has already been buried in a subcommittee -
is a winner.

"He wants to get the conversation started," Golden said of his boss.
"Besides, the study could come back saying no one wants to buy
marijuana in Virginia."

Far be it from me to stomp all over Englin's conversation piece, but
it's worth asking how exactly this joint committee, meeting six times
- - or even 60 - could possibly come up with any kind of reliable
forecast about Virginia's need for weed.

Would it study marijuana arrests? Ask law-abiding folks to see whether
they plan to start smoking pot once it's legal? Or might it simply
hire the same consultants who provide cities with bogus convention
center estimates and get them to run some pot projections?

Golden assured me that reliable numbers could be found and noted that
part of the reason Englin is pushing this measure is that marijuana
"is very effective in treating PTSD" post-traumatic stress disorder,
something that plagues vets returning from the wars in Iraq and

Ah, a patriotic angle. Very clever.

Of course, it's hard to imagine pot being peddled in ABC stores if it
were simply for medicinal purposes. Last time I checked, most folks
buy medicine at pharmacies.

Then again, I'm not saying marijuana shouldn't be legal. It probably
should. I'm a small-"L" libertarian when it comes to vices. If the
people of Virginia want to legalize marijuana, or casino gambling,
it's fine with me.

If I don't like it, I'll move.

But in the unlikely event Virginia legalizes pot someday, the
government should resist the urge to start selling the stuff. Frankly,
drug dealers have been doing a bang-up job supplying ganja for
generations. Maybe they could go legit and start paying taxes like the
rest of us.

Oh, look. Here's another measure Englin is pushing this session:
HB142, which would allow localities to ban smoking in public parks.

Golden said this bill is aimed at Dillon's Rule rather than tobacco
but acknowledged that Englin had been a strong supporter of Virginia's
sweeping anti-smoking laws.

In other words, at least one of the politicians who seems inclined to
legalize pot is one of the same legislators who made sure there
wouldn't be any public places to smoke it.

Welcome to winter in Virginia. The silly season. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.