Certain southern states are on a roll vis-à-vis medical marijuana, and it’s a beautiful sight. West Virginia, whose slogan is “Wild and Wonderful,” just joined the club.
A bill permitting doctors to recommend medical cannabis and to establish a regulatory system was just approved by the West Virginia House of Delegates.
The MMJ bill will license plant growers, processors and dispensaries for the sale of pills, oils, topical gels, dermal patches, liquids and oil that can be vaped. It does not authorize the dispensing of flowers for smoking.
Originally introduced by Democratic Senator Richard Ojeda in the Senate where it was approved last week, the bill passed on Tuesday in a 76-24 vote.
“The legislature has answered the prayers of many seriously ill West Virginians and their families,” said Matt Simon, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project.
“This could be life-saving legislation for some patients,” said Simon, a native of West Virginia, in a press release. “We commend House members for working diligently to make sure it passes this year, but we urge the legislature to continue efforts to make sure the program truly works for the seriously ill and to ensure it does not unnecessarily drive up costs.”
The bill, SB 386, will establish a Bureau of Public Health program with ID cards for patients who are terminally ill or have severe or chronic intractable pain, cancer, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, AIDS and other debilitating conditions.
“I think we all know someone who has benefited from some application of marijuana or certainly could benefit based on the research that’s available today,” said Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott.
One Senate Delegate, Mike Pushkin, who sponsored an amendment to let patients grow their own plants, put the situation into historical perspective.
“I can tell you with great certainty that this bill is not bringing cannabis to West Virginia because it’s been here longer than any of us has been here,” he said according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “What we’re doing is bringing some of it out of the shadows. The most important thing is we’re allowing some people to alleviate their suffering.”
Pushkin says the bill is not perfect, but it’s a start.
“It really is a good first step,” he continued. “We can fix it later.”
Pushkin added that he would have preferred legislation that allowed people to grow their own plants or parents to purchase edibles for children with certain medical conditions.
The current legislation would require people to make their own edibles. We’re sure they’ll learn quickly.