House doesn’t take up medical marijuana bill, future of program in question

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that would have updated the state’s medical marijuana law died Saturday night after not being taken up by the House of Delegates leaving in question the program’s future.

The bill (HB 4345) included several provisions that supporters said were meant to make the passage of last year’s bill to legalize medical marijuana in the Mountain State more effective.

Charles Trump

“If we’re going to do it, and the legislature sort of decided last year that we should do it, we want to do it right,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said.

The House passed the three-page bill earlier in the session but the Senate made numerous changes and sent it back as a 20-plus page bill at shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday night, the last night of the regular session. The House leadership didn’t present the changed bill to the full House.

House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, was questioned by House Democrats at around 11 p.m. concerning the status of the bill. He said he had been received in the clerk’s office but not taken up by the House.

House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha

“The House has many messages that get sent from the Senate and until they are brought to the floor and taken up they aren’t before the House for action,” Armstead said.

With the bill’s death, the status of the medical marijuana program appears to be in question. The measure included several recommendations from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board and state Bureau of Public Health on how the program should operate. It is scheduled to begin in July 2019.

The bill dealt with things like the collection of taxes, further restrictions and some corrections to last year’s bill. It also clarified that physicians are doing the certifications of the conditions that make a person eligible for the use of medical cannabis and prescribing the use.

WV Legislative Photography, Photo by Perry Bennett

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