Medical marijuana legalization supporters to rally Saturday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Calls for movement on the Mountain State’s medical marijuana law will go out in several counties during Saturday’s West Virginia Statewide Pro-Cannabis Rally.

“We want a safer way to medicate and a way to have a better quality of life than what we’re getting with pharmaceuticals that we’re prescribed,” said Amanda Vezinat, a West Virginia native who recently retired from the U.S. military for medical reasons.

Vezinat is one of the organizers of the events that will focus on the medicinal and societal benefits of medical cannabis.

Saturday rally locations and times are as follows:

Beckley, Word Park 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Buckhannon, Jawbone Park 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lewisburg, The Greenspace 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Morgantown, Jack Roberts Park 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Parkersburg, Bicentennial Park 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A state law passed in 2017 allows for the legalization of medical marijuana in West Virginia beginning in July 2019.

However, during the 2018 Regular Legislative Session, the state House of Delegates did not take up and agree to Senate changes to an original House bill, HB 4345, which dealt with permits for growers, processors and dispensaries of medical cannabis.

In general terms, the legislation was a companion bill establishing the framework necessary for implementation of the law utilizing suggestions from the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Among the proposed changes was the creation of a special credit union for the medical marijuana industry.

In March, state Treasurer John Perdue reported existing banks were not interested in processing funds because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

In a separate bill, Governor Jim Justice vetoed the transfer of money from the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Division of Health Vital Statistics Account to the Medical Cannabis Fund due to federal banking regulations.

Vezinat said lawmakers should revisit the issues in a Special Session.

Saturday’s events will be streamed on the Facebook page for West Virginia Green Is the New Black, an organization focused on the potential social, cultural and economic benefits of the legalization of cannabis in the Mountain State.

“None of these rallies are a smoke out,” Vezinat told MetroNews.

“This is strictly supposed to be educational and a chance for us to, not only educate the public, but to let the politicians hear our voices.”

In Fairmont, an anti-opioid rally Is also scheduled for Saturday for 1 p.m. at Palatine Park.

“We’re hoping our voices will be heard and they’ll understand this isn’t just something a few people want,” said Vezinat. “We have a lot of constituents all across the state that are looking for something better.”

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