CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After a surprise Thursday evening vote to force a medical marijuana bill to the floor — rather than going to committee — the House Judiciary chairman today asked for an additional two days to work on the details of the bill.
Members of the House granted his request to postpone second reading until Monday. Shott said he and Judiciary staff would be working on Sunday to craft amendments to the bill. Delegate Pat McGeehan, a supporter of the medical marijuana bill, asked for assurances that supporters could remain in the loop.
In an interview after today’s floor session, Shott said he needs just a little more time to whip the bill into shape for possible passage.
“The bill bypassed the original committee process. It had been scheduled to go to both Health and Judiciary, so when I looked at the bill I realized there were some real concerns that hadn’t been addressed in the bill,” Shott said.
Shott said he also spent part of Thursday night reading about Colorado and its experiences legalizing medical marijuana. Some cautionary tales involved edible marijuana and protecting children, Shott said.
“So we wanted some time to try to offer the members the opportunity to include some additional protections in the bill, maybe change the composition of the (oversight) commission, limit the scope of who can prescribe and so forth. Fortunately, the members were agreeable to that.”
Shott said he wanted to be open and clear with his fellow House members about his objectives.
“We have some members that are skeptical right now of any effort to delay the bill,” he said. “The sole purpose of this is to try to get some options to the members because not all medical marijuana laws are the same.
“There are some that are much more aggressive and sort of Wild West-style and others that are much more cautious. I think this one is much more aggressive, the bill we have. And I think our members ought to be able to consider one that is a bit more cautious,” Shott said.
House Minority Leader Tim Miley stood and asked delegates to trust Shott enough to work on the bill over the weekend.
Today on “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval, Miley said he believes the bill is now headed for passage.
“I think we absolutely will pass a medical marijuana bill,” Miley said. “The question will be, what additional work by way of amendment needs to be done on the bill?”
Miley agreed that some aspects of the bill need to be modified, saying the minority counsel has identified some pieces of the bill that need work.
Asked about the medical marijuana bill Thursday morning during a public appearance about the state budget, Gov. Jim Justice said he will need to explore the issue more.
“I’m dialed in wholeheartedly to the budget. I’m not dodging the question,” Justice said. “I’ve said over and over, I would be an advocate of medical marijuana. The reason I would is just this — I don’t think any of us, if we had a loved one at home and the doc said it would help, why in the world would you stand in the way?
“I would be an absolutely opponent to legalizing marijuana because we have a drug epidemic in this state that we need to absolutely get our act together before we add another component to the table.”