After ten years in the Virginia General Assembly, state Sen. Madison Marye (D-Montgomery) said today he had received his first offer of money for a vote -- a $200 check that came in the mail from a self-proclaimed "marijuana businessman."

"I don't know what to make of it," Mayre said. "It doesn't seem to have any purpose."

Marye wasn't the only one completely baffled. At least eight senators acknowledged receiving mysterious mimeographed appeals during the weekend from the businessman including enclosures with the $200 checks. The checks which bore a signature of an individual who could not be reached for comment, accompanied appeals asking senators to vote for raising the drinking age for beer to 21.

"Marijuana Businessmen presently have to compete with beer on unfair terms," read the letter with an envelope stamped in Roanoke. "Marijuana is illegal, cannot be advertised and cannot be distributed easily. Beer, on the other hand, is legal . . . With the new 21 law, marijuana businessmen will be able to compete fairly in a major market (18-20.)

For those senators tempted to cash the enclosures, though, there was a catch. Each senator said he received a check made out to another senator. "I got a check payable to (Nathan) Miller (R-Harrisonburg)," said State Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell (R-Alexandria). "Miller received one made out to (Thomas) Michie (D-Charlottesville) . . . Whoever was doing this was pretty clever."

No senator interviewed today said their vote on the drinking age bill, which has passed the House, would be affected by the appeal. And none said they intended to cash their checks. Under Virginia law it is illegal to offer money in exchange for a vote.