'Smoke the Vote' campaign pushes to legalize marijuana in VA

'Smoke the Vote' campaign pushes to legalize marijuana in VA

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A group is launching a "Smoke the Vote" campaign to legalize marijuana in the Commonwealth.

"The war on drugs is failing," said Jenn Michelle Pedini with the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "The time for sensible cannabis reform in Virginia is now."

Pedini says Virginians spend $70 million a year on prosecuting marijuana possession cases.

"We could be putting our money towards fighting actual crimes with victims...rape and murder here in the Commonwealth," said Pedini.

Members of the law enforcement community are raising concerns about a possible increase in drugged driving.

"What's out there now is sending people into psychosis and emergency rooms," said Marjorie Yates with the Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance.

Yates says marijuana is now more potent than in years past.

"I would rather treat the hardest heroin addict than a pot head," said Yates. "Because the person who smokes weed every day is not going to agree that they have a problem. They don't think they have a problem. And that's what makes it hard to treat. It's very scary stuff."

Pedini says detractors are simply pushing "fear campaigns."

"Why are we sitting and waiting to watch this sweep across the rest of the country?" questioned Pedini. "Millions of people are having safe, legal, regulated access."

Members of law enforcement met with the secretary of public safety in just the past week to express their concerns.

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