Eighteen states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana and now West Virginia representatives are talking about possibly legalizing it here too.
Taylor County Delegate Mike Manypenny introduced H.B. 2230, formally known as the Compassionate Medical Marijuana Use Act of 2013, in hopes that patients with qualifying medical conditions could obtain the marijuana.
The bill would allow patients with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommended it.
On Thursday, the House Health and Human Resources Committee led a public hearing where West Virginia patients and advocates joined in on the conversation regarding the bill.
Kanawha County resident Terry Lively struggles with MS and she said medical marijuana has allowed her to control her symptoms and be a successful member of society.
“I produced over twenty training films, two years of a monthly cable access show, four documentaries, edited an award winning book, ran my own company, served three years as president of another arts organization while keeping up with a husband and son,” said Lively. “All the while smoking medical marijuana.”
Lively told committee members it is getting increasingly getting to acquire marijuana and urged lawmakers to pass the bill.
Kanawha County resident Chris Yeager addressed the committee on behalf of his brother who lost his life due to prescription drug abuse, or specifically opiate. He believes marijuana could have provided a better outcome.
“It’s been medically proven that medical cannabis will help wean people off of opiate addictions,” said Yeager.
Under the current bill, patients would be limited to six ounces or privately growing up to 12 plants in their homes.
Dr. Paul Clancy is a ER Doctor in Charleston and he told the committee he has seen maybe four cases dealing with marijuana problems.
“I see a lot of substance abuse at work of all flavors, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, illegal drugs,” said Dr. Clancy. “What I don’t see a lot of is marijuana problems.”
Dr. Clancy said marijuana is safer than a lot of other prescription drugs, has less harmful side effects and can divert a lot of prescription drug abuse.
If the bill was to get passed, it would initially establish five tightly regulated centers across the state in order to provide patients with safe and reliable access to medical marijuana.
The bill currently sits in the House Health and Human Resources Committee.