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Pot enthusiasts quiet in early days of legalization in Alexandria

While owning up to an ounce of marijuana is now legal in Virginia, there’s been a delayed reaction in Alexandria.

Since July 1, it’s also been legal to grow up to four plants and to gift up to an ounce.

Del Ray resident Devin Fraley has been growing in his back yard for more than a year.

“Last summer somebody gave me a seed,” Fraley said. “I just put it into the ground next to our tomatoes. We grow small plants, and it was kind of fun to watch it grow between the peppers and tomatoes. It broke during a rainstorm in the fall, and we harvested it and I gave the buds to my mother-in-law. This year we decided to do the same thing. We have one plant, and we are not growers.”

Not much has changed from a behavioral or law enforcement standpoint, acting Police Chief Don Hayes told ALXnow.

“There’s still not enough evidence to see how it’s gonna sway what we do one way or the other,” Hayes said, adding that the department hasn’t received many pot-related calls for service. “Only time will tell.”

One incident caused concern in Old Town last Sunday, July 18. A woman was walking her puppy in Founders Park near the waterfront when it ate some discarded marijuana.

“Someone dropped marijuana in the park earlier and she ate it sending us to the veterinary emergency room,” the woman wrote on Nextdoor. “This was a touch and go situation. She is fine now. This is just a cautionary note – so (be) on the lookout. The Vet said they are seeing a lot more of this recently and honestly they seem to know what was wrong almost immediately.”

Fraley said his neighbors still won’t talk about marijuana.

“This is still illegal federally,” he said. “If you have a federal job, it’s not okay for you to partake in. I’m sure there are other people doing it, but it’s still something that you wouldn’t want to talk about because you have a very valuable crop that can be stolen easily. Even though it’s legal, people still aren’t talking about it.”

In Old Town, resident Fawn Lee said that legalization has started to remove the negative stigma around pot.

“It feels easier to talk about it as a part of my life, as something that relieves my stress and anxiety,” Lee said. “It also means that I can talk about it without fearing repercussions for my daughter’s school or anyone else that cares for her or is around her in any capacity, because it’s no longer illegal.”

While the recreational sale of marijuana is three years away, possession of more than an ounce, but less than a pound, is still a civil penalty of $25. Possessing more than that is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

Alexandria says marijuana will “keep you from doing your best” and warns against deteriorating IQs, school performance and quality of life.

“Studies also consistently show that individuals that use marijuana are less likely to graduate from high school or college and more likely to be unemployed,” the City said in a release.

Fraley recently found a downside to growing.

“The plant is doing fine, but I think it’s a male which means it doesn’t have any hallucinogenic properties, so it’s really just garbage,” he said.

via Wesley Gibbs/Unsplash

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