CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia lawmakers are beginning to gather the facts on the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana. A legislative interim committee heard a pair of presentations Wednesday at the state capitol.
Marijuana Policy Project Legislative Analyst Matt Simon told a group of delegates and senators that 20 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana in various forms. Simon said some states allow residents to grow their own plants but in other states, like Colorado, for-profit dispensaries handle the distribution.
In some states smoking the marijuana is permitted, while in others it is eaten.
“So patients say they are able to titrate their doses much more effectively if they’re able to inhale it. But many patients do prefer the edibles, particularly if you have severe pain and you want to sleep through the night a brownie a couple of hours before dinner may help people,” Simon said.
Lawmakers asked questions about how the legalization has impacted marijuana use by teens and if impaired driving statistics increase. Simon said the research numbers are good in most cases.
Del. Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, said the federal government has already recognized medical marijuana works but the debate comes down to how it should be delivered.
“The facts are already there, this is a good drug,” Staggers said. “Certainly people can abuse it but they abuse things like oxygen and water too.”
Simon said there have been a lot of improvements in medical marijuana laws since California took it up years ago. He said states have learned what to include and not to include. Simon supports even more states legalizing it.
“Those are some of the really tragic cases in my opinion, patients who have to move to another state just to try a plant that would work for them,” he said.
A medical marijuana bill, just like in recent years, will be introduced again in the next regular legislative session.