Al Alborn

Al Alborn

I am not and never was a “pothead.”  That’s perhaps unusual for a child of the ’60s who was a soldier in Asia in the ’70s.  

I only “sorta” smoked a joint in 1968.  I was a private at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., attending advanced individual training.  Pot was everywhere.  Our barracks sergeant was the dealer.  He took a couple of us on a hitchhiking trip to Phoenix to sneak into a Joan Baez concert.

We didn’t make it in, so we headed back to Huachuca and spent the night in a culvert under Interstate 10.  Sarge pulled out a joint, lighted it and passed it around.  Who was I to refuse the Sarge?  I really didn’t know what to do with it, so I’m not sure it counted as actually smoking a joint. 

I quickly joined a lifetime career in and out of uniform hallmarked by frequent background investigations, an occasional polygraph and random urine tests.  That discouraged further investigation of the world of weed.

Regardless of my own interest in partaking, I always wondered why a country where alcohol and tobacco are legal made smoking this weed a crime.  I often mused with visitors to my front porch about this apparent contradiction.  A couple of my guests and I agreed to light up as a matter of principle if it were ever legalized in Virginia – and as of July 1 it’s legal to light up in the state.

So, where can I buy some pot?

Medical cannabis is already legal in Virginia.  As long as you have a valid government-issued ID, a medical cannabis card issued by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy and a printed copy of their unexpired written certification to one of four dispensaries open in the state you can buy a range of products for your aches, pains or whatever.  I checked one of the dispensaries, Dharma Pharmaceuticals, and found a lot of interesting products.  None of them is intended for recreational use.

As of July 1, I can smoke pot; I just can’t buy pot.  That sounds like a great premise for a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.  I can legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana as long as I don’t intend to distribute it.  The problem is nobody can actually legally sell it to me.  

Gardeners will be pleased to know they can add four marijuana plants on their property.  I have a nice spot all picked out and am hoping Virginia Cooperative Extension gives us gardeners tips on how to get the most out of this plant.  The problem is I can’t legally buy the seeds.  

It will be legal to buy pot for recreational use in 2024.  This gives the state time to establish the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority as the regulatory structure for the manufacture and sale of marijuana and marijuana products.  I assume taxing pot will be part of the authority’s agenda.  I wonder if anyone computed the tax revenue lost by delaying legalization and taxation for three more years.  I hope my friends and I live long enough to toke on a joint when that happens.

Anyone who has some pot laying around or is already cultivating may gift up to an ounce to others.  If you fall into that category and are feeling generous, I’ll be on my front porch perhaps with a couple of friends.  You can even join us!  If you are the shy type, just leave it on my steps where I’ll find it later.

Al Alborn is a political and social activist in Prince William County. His column appears every other week.  You can learn more about Al at and LinkedIn.

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