At a time when uncertainty grips marijuana policy at the federal level, some states are still making progress toward sensible weed laws.
West Virginia became the newest state to join the ranks on Wednesday when Democratic Governor Jim Justice—who has probably the greatest name in politics—signed SB 386 into law, legalizing medical marijuana in the Mountain State.
What makes the passing even more remarkable is that the bill made it through a Republican-controlled legislature, joining Pennsylvania and Ohio in the regard.
That being said, this isn’t full legalization; according to the Marijuana Policy Project, “it charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form.”
Still—progress is progress.
Currently, more than nine out of 10 Americans support medical marijuana laws, and more than half of the country supports full legalization.
“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”
Providing an alternative to opioids is a main concern for West Virginia, where drug overdose deaths are double the national average.
Currently, 29 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico have effective medical marijuana laws. Eight states (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts) plus Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana outright.
A summary of the full West Virgina bill is available HERE.