CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan, 07), the lead sponsor of a medical marijuana bill, says he’s confident the bill will clear the Senate and return to the House of Delegates.
“If it passes the Senate, then it will let people over there know that they have an opportunity to, once again, do something positive,” Ojeda said on last week’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Earlier this month, delegates failed to pass an amendment to a House Bill which would legalize medical marijuana in West Virginia. A nearly two-hour long debate on the House Floor became emotional at times on both sides. The final vote on the amendment was 35 for and 64 against.
Ojeda is now urging lawmakers to pass the WV Medical Cannabis Act (SB 386).
“It’s not about any of the people in power in this building. This is about giving thousands upon thousands of people in our state the ability to receive relief from the illnesses that they have,” he said.
Studies have shown medical marijuana can treat chronic pain, nausea and vomiting in cancer patients and muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.
“If you are going through chemotherapy, which gives you bouts of nausea, well guess what? The smoking of marijuana is the only thing that will give you immediate relief on the spot,” Ojeda said.
Some of the health effects of cannabis can be found here from a recent study by the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine and Engineering.
Opponents of the bill say more research needs to happen, it’s too dangerous to use and it lacks approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
But supporters argue the access to medical usage will result in fewer opioid deaths and less prescription painkiller abuse.
In addition, Ojeda said the bill would help West Virginia’s veterans. The state has the most vets in the United States.
“Twenty-two veterans are committing suicide every day across the United States of America. As a person that’s a retired military man, I look at those people as my brothers and sisters and this is an opportunity for them to relieve some assistance,” he said.
SB 386 is currently pending in the the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. Ojeda said the bill has a lot of support.
“A lot of the people that did not co-sponsor it already said that if it hits the floor, they’ll vote for it,” he said.
Currently, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.