Header Badge

Two Stories From Virginia One Tragic and One Absurd But No One Saw the Connection


Article by Richard Cowen. 

The other story from Virginia was also widely reported, including NBC, “Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Saturday to a bill that will legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, but not until 2024, when retail sales of the drug would also begin.”

That’s right. The bill will not go into effect until 2024. Until then Virginia police will continue to arrest people for possession! 

Virginia is the home of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, which he wrote over the Summer of 1787. Maybe if we gave quills to the Virginia legislators…

I have written several columns about the mess that the states are making of marijuana legalization, but this is ridiculous.


See Why The US Has Made A Complete Mess Of Partial Marijuana Legalization (So Far)


Of course, all of the Republicans voted against even that. They were probably too busy talking about “Freedom.” They just love talking about it. And think of the children! 

Now for a little history. In 1986, a young college basketball star, Len Bias, died from cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose two days after being selected by the Boston Celtics with the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft. That made national headlines. 

Most people have probably forgotten about Bias, but 36 years later, the consequences of his tragic death are still with us.

“A few weeks after Bias' death, committees in the United States House of Representatives began writing anti-drug legislation. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was signed by President Ronald Reagan on October 27, 1986. The law provided a mandatory minimum prison term of 20 years and a maximum life sentence, along with a fine of up to $2 million, and is also known as the "Len Bias Law."  

Ironically, the burden of that law fell most heavily on young Black Americans like Bias. 

“In years past, someone convicted of possessing one gram of crack would receive a sentence 100 times longer than someone possessing one gram of powder cocaine. What is the chemical difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine that justified this disparity? Answer: There is no significant chemical difference—crack and powder cocaine are both forms of cocaine. The stark difference in federal sentencing laws for possession of the two forms of the same drug has more to do with media mythology and political pressure than with public safety and health. A 2010 federal law rectified some, though not all, of the sentencing disparities.”


See Crack vs. Powder Cocaine: One Drug, Two Penalties


But there are no proposed laws as the result of an alcohol overdose. 

A few months after Bias’ death, the New York Times reported, “ON the night of Oct. 25, Edward G. McGuire 3d, a sophomore from Falmouth, Mass., attended a school-sanctioned party at Saybrook College, one of the 16 residential colleges at Yale University. Alcohol was served at the party. Later, friends say, he continued drinking at a private dormitory party in the same college, where he eventually passed out and was taken to his room in Silliman College.

The following morning, Mr. McGuire, 19 years old, was found dead in his bed by his roommates. An autopsy by the office of the Chief State Medical Examiner showed Mr. McGuire had died of alcohol poisoning.”

Note that the Bias law was signed by Reagan two days after Mr McGuire died. 


See Drug Overdoses Kill More People In West Virginia Than COVID-19


There was no national publicity. There were no laws passed. Young white men did not become the targets of law enforcement. And what have we learned? Not very much, apparently.

The state legislatures still cannot get their acts together to legalize a substance that doesn’t kill college students. Yeah, sure. Think of the children.

Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of CBD Oil Vs CBD Tinctures.


Order now
Subscribe Now
Customer CareRenew