CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former member of the state House of Delegates is calling on the House to vote down the medical marijuana bill, so supporters can come back next year with a better version of the bill.
“We’re going to try to come back next year, get a running start and try to get some more support,” said Mike Manypenny, a former Taylor County Delegate, on Tuesday’s “580 Live” heard on MetroNews affiliate 580-WCHS in Charleston.
Manypenny, a Democrat, said the bill “took a big hit” Monday after it was changed to be more restrictive. The WV Medical Cannabis Act (SB 386) was up for passage Monday in the House.
“What we got was a watered down version which eliminates the availability of the actual herb,” Manypenny said.
The latest version of the bill prohibits the smoking and eating of purchased medical cannabis edibles. Allowed forms include oil, pills or topical forms like creams. The use of the drug would be to treat chronic pain, nausea and vomiting in cancer patients and muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott (R-Mercer, 27) offered a more restrictive amendment, which was adopted Monday on a 51-48 vote.
The bill looks much different than the bill that passed the Senate last week. As written, it puts the Bureau of Public Health in charge of medical marijuana oversight and does not permit plants to be grown for personal use.
The number of growers and permits for dispensaries are limited in the bill. There would be fees to enter the market. Growers have to pay a $100,000 initial fee that could be renewed after a year for $10,000. Dispensers would pay $25,000 per location and renew it for $5,000 after a year.
“One of the problems is it takes it out of the hands of people that are low incomes and can’t afford it to where they can grow their own plant and/or get a more affordable form of cannabis which would be the herbal form,” Manypenny said.
Manypenny served in the House from 2009-2015. He introduced medical marijuana bills from 2011-2014 before Republicans reclaimed control of the Legislature.
“It’s a matter of educating people,” he said. “In the states that have legalized cannabis they have lower rates of teen use, they have lower rates of substance abuse and overdoses and they have reduced traffic fatalities.”
Currently, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
The 2017 Regular Legislative Session ends Saturday at midnight.