FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               March 11, 1999

What:    New definition of marijuana in Virginia law
Where:  Virginia General Assembly, Richmond, Virginia
Who:     Senator Kenneth Stolle, police Lobbyists and prosecuting attorneys
   Virginians Against Drug Violence, the  American Civil Liberties Union
              of Virginia and the Virginia Libertarian Party

On the 25th  of  February, Virginia’s House of Delegates passed HB1819 which adds seeds
and stems to the legal definition of marijuana over the objection of the American Civil Liberties
Union of Virginia, Virginians Against Drug Violence and the Libertarian party of Virginia. Since
the bill was presented to ensure police didn’t have to waste their time sifting marijuana a carefully
crafted Amendment was created to minimize the negative impact of HB1819 on the poor and
lowest level marijuana arrestees. That same Amendment, forged out of a cooperative effort
between Henrico county police, Virginians Against Drug Violence and the House Courts of Justice
committee was missing when the bill returned from the Senate.
Senator Ken Stolle decided that he could remove the Amendment from the bill and disregard the
resulting fiscal impact in violation of the “Woodrum Amendment” which requires legislators to
consider the cost of laws adding jail time, an action he felt was made possible by the new Republican
majority in the Senate.
HB1819 will have the effect of creating at least 1000 new felonies from what would have been
misdemeanors because of the added weight of the “non smokeable” materials. Last year there
were over 17,500 marijuana arrests in Virginia so this can potentially effect thousands of Virginia's
lowest level and poorest marijuana law violators. This is the fifth year the police used taxpayer
funds to lobby for this bill, each previous year the bill was stopped because of public opposition
and the proposed high cost to taxpayers.
Lennice Werth of Virginians Against Drug violence called Senator Ken Stolle’s actions
“A great win for nihilism.” “How do I convince new volunteers who are just becoming involved
and excited about being able to make a difference not to give up on a system so corrupted by
the obsession of the war on drugs as to make rules no longer apply to those in power” Lennice
- END -

            Virginians Against Drug Violence is a voluntary association of persons
            who participate in activities directed at changing drug policy in our state.
           We have a vision of peace, which recognizes that imprisonment and other
         dehumanizing methods are not good ways to achieve temperance. For more
     information call or write Lennice Werth at (804)645-7838 Rt.3 Box 692,Crewe,
                                    VA 23930
                                             Email or