Drug Reform                                                                                                       1999 Issue 
   Virginian     Virginians Against Drug Violence Annual Legislative Report
                   Rt 3 BOX 692, Crewe, VA 23930 (804) 645-7838  FAX# (804) 645-8324


Drug Peace Illusive in ’99 Legislative Session
A Mean Session: 

In anticipation of this year’s elections the legislative session turned into a demonstration of how politicians tread on civil liberties, minorities and the disadvantaged as they climb into elective office. On the positive side the proposal to make juveniles eligible for life prison terms was stopped in house appropriations meaning that the General Assembly agreed in principal but not enough to make the financial commitment. We were able to do some damage control on the Khat issue; the bill that passed was not as inclusive of other plant substances. Law enforcement, posing as dealers, will still have to break the law in order to sell drugs they confiscate (they admitted to doing this already during hearings.) The resolution calling for the DEA to change its policy in such a way as to allow Virginia to grow industrial hemp was passed. BUT, we now have the new "Virginia Exile"(HB1691) program that will include a new 5yr mandatory minimum sentence for drug offenses in the presence of a gun. Also, many suspects will be denied bail and drug offenders will be subject to loss of business licenses (SB849). The bill to prohibit strip searches in schools was gutted leaving us with a law that requires school boards to establish "guidelines," it doesn’t even prohibit observation of such a search by the opposite sex!

The bill reflecting our work last summer regarding urine testing of all sorts of offenders passed. Those who will be screened as a result of conviction will be given an oral or written "quiz" before they have to submit a urine sample. The short test will be used to determine whether further treatment "assessment" is to be done. Call Lennice for a copy of the "quiz."

Stolle Holding Drug War Technology Hearings:

Senator Kenneth Stolle is using his Chairmanship of the Virginia State Crime Commission to advance his drug war agenda by giving a high priority to his HJR 240 "study" to improve law enforcement techniques. This nuts and bolts agenda should not stop us from crashing their "authority party" in order to promote reform. Senator Stolle loves to be very technical and press opposition into a marginal space by suggesting that the reform debate does not fit the agenda. We can't allow all of this to proceed in a moral vacuum as Chairman Stolle wishes. 

Seeds and Stems Passes: 

Police and legislators pushing for this measure claimed the purpose was to relieve authorities of the burden of cleaning marijuana of the extraneous material before weighing it to determine the severity of charges. The House of Delegates passed a compromise bill that would have increased the amounts of the herb leading to a felony charge. VADV activists supported the resulting bill because it probably would have decreased the numbers of felony charges faced by small time cannabis offenders and would remove some of the disproportionate impact of the bill on low income marijuana consumers. But when Senator Stolle of Virginia Beach saw the amended bill in senate courts committee he declared it defeated the purpose of the original bill which could only be interpreted to mean that all along the intent was to incarcerate more marijuana offenders. The committee bowed to Stolle's considerable arm-twisting and put the lower threshold amounts back in. Further, the senate committee willfully violated the "Woodrum" law by refusing to admit that extra jail time will cost the state any money. When the bill returned to the House in its original, harmful form, tough-on -crime political pressures overcame a brave effort by a few Delegates to derail it. It passed with only eight dissenting votes.

November Elections are Critical 

Our representatives in state government believe a vote that is "soft on drugs" will derail their political careers. They look toward November to reap the rewards of the toughness" displayed in February. They are literally tearing families apart and stepping on the remaining heap of human misery to heighten their own position.

We must change this shameful aspect of Virginia’s drug war by getting active in the electoral process. We need some political pull. To get it we’ll participate in several campaigns this fall.

Our objective is to demonstrate an ability to effect results in elections. We have selected key races in which to help the opponents of our foes and support our friends. If you want to help a candidate in your area go to the contact info on this sheet. We’ll discuss the best way to make a difference for reform. Working on these campaigns is no quick fix, but it is probably the only way we’ll ever get serious reform.

Website, email and contact info:

DRCnet operates our open discussion list at http://www.DRCnet.org/ or e-mail at 

<va-dpr@drcnet.org> DrugSense hosts our low volume list at <dpfva@drugsense.org> and our website http://www.drugsense.org/dpfva Michael Krawitz is our webmaster. If you would like to become active on-line just email Michael at one of the edress’s above. 

Anyone who wants to get more active, please call Lennice Werth at (804)645-7838, email lennice@nottowayez.net or our legislative analyst Roy Scherer at: <rscherer@richmond.infi.net> The Virginia state legislative website at: http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm makes it easy for you to keep watch on legislative activities yourself. 

Keeping up with the feds! 

Virginians Against Drug Violence has a close working relationship with the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. MPP keeps us informed of developments at the federal level. Contact them at: P.O. Box 77492, Capital Hill, Washington D.C. 20013 or call them at (202)462-5747. 

Human Rights Exhibit Tours Fairfax County Libraries

"Human Rights and the Drug War" is an exhibit featuring prisoners of the drug war and their personal family stories and is presently touring libraries in Fairfax with other locations coming soon. To view the schedule of showings look at "southeastern" listings on http://www.hr95.org/schedule.htm or Lennice can send a copy to you . (See contact info.)

Would you like to have the HR’95 exhibit shown at a library in your community? Talk to your local librarian and to us – we’ll help you make all the arrangements. This is an extremely effective way to raise the consciousness of the public about harms of the war on drugs. 

Who are we?

Virginians Against Drug Violence {VADV} is a voluntary association of persons who participate in activities directed at ending the drug war in our state. We have a vision of peace, which recognizes prohibition as a failed concept that encourages imprisonment and other dehumanizing acts which are not good ways to achieve temperance. 

Get Involved - its easy!

1999 Legislative Results:

HB1691 - Virginia exile bill. Passed.

HB1699, 1808 & SB 880 - Life sentence for juveniles involved in drug sales. Dead.

HB 1796 & 1819 - Adds weight of seeds and stems to marijuana charges. Passed.

HB1517 - Additional penalty for drug sales within 100 yards a bus stop. Passed.

HB 1718 - Creates additional penalty for drug sales within 1000' of preschool. Dead.

HB 1896 - Imitation controlled substances like oregano and baking soda to draw jail time. Also amended to criminalize Khat as a schedule one drug. Passed.

SB 820 - Denies bail if a firearm is present at scene of arrest. Passed.

HB1850 - Criminalizes two drugs popular at "rave" parties. Dead.

HB1524 - Creates exception to "smoke-a-joint-lose-your-license". Dead.

SB 849 - Drug offenders to forfeit business licenses. Passed.
HB1548 - Drug sales to inmates will lead to asset forfeiture. Passed.

HJ 94 - Industrial hemp study. Passed.