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Legalize marijuana the focus of rally at state Capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Supporters of marijuana use, both for recreational and medical purposes, want West Virginia lawmakers to pass legislation to legalize it.

“Joints = jobs” and “believe in the leaf” were just some of the signs held in front of the state Capitol Wednesday, the first day of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.

The “Make It Legal Rally” was hosted by West Virginia Green is the New Black — an organization focused on the social, cultural and economic benefits of decriminalization and legalization of cannabis in the state.

Danny Bragg, founder of the organization, supports legalizing medical marijuana over recreational pot. He said it would help save lives and create a new source of revenue for the state.

“It will create a new revenue stream and it will create an opportunity for industry,” Bragg said. “Twenty eight states have already medically legalized which means we can take everything they’ve done right and everything they’ve done wrong and start over and build something that works for us.”

If West Virginia does not get on top of the issue, Bragg said, the state will get left behind.

“There is already a marijuana industry and we’re making nothing off of it. We’re imprisoning people. What I want, ultimately, is a regulated industry that people can use, when they need it, but will also disincentivise the black markets that are already existing and give other options to people,” he said.

Delegate Mick Bates (D-Raleigh, 30) plans to introduce a bill about a cannabis based oil to help people suffering from seizures. Several other bills in connection with legalizing marijuana will also be discussed in the legislative session. Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha, 37) was at Wednesday’s rally to show his support for the legalization.

Bragg said he wants the option to made available for him and his family.

“If my child has a seizure disorder or something like that, I want to have to ability to give them an alternative to what else is out there right now,” Bragg said.

He said he just wants to get the conversation going with state lawmakers.

“My goal is to be able to sit down with each and every one of them individually,” he said. “Is medical cannabis the solution to everything? Of course not. It’s just an option to create new industry and that’s something that we don’t have.”

The 2017 Regular Legislative Session runs through April 8.

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