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Kanawha County delegate hopeful for movement on cannabis legislation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha) says he believes there is enough support from both sides of the aisle to move medical cannabis legislation forward.

Pushkin appeared on Wednesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ to update where things stand with medical cannabis legislation and what he would like to see changed.

“Leadership is standing in the way of that,” Pushkin said of passage through the House.

Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha

“I definitely think we have the votes to fix this broken medical cannabis act that we have now. We owe it to the people of West Virginia who are sick and suffering and could benefit from this.”

Currently, the state Office of Medical Cannabis is in the midst of an application period for the medical marijuana program putting. The period ending on February 18, could set growers on a path that could result in the product being available in approximately 18 months.

“Whether they are growers, processors or dispensaries, these potential businesses that are wanting to come to West Virginia or already in West Virginia, and want to invest millions of dollars and create thousands of jobs. We are in the process where they are applying for those business licenses,” Pushkin said.

Pushkin said there are changes he would like to make to a bill that was in the House in 2017 that allowed for the sale of cannabis in pill and oil form.

He wants the bills moved forward that would allow for the sale of the marijuana flower, plant and edibles for both adult-use and medical use. He said the state needs to give patients more options and fully legalize it in every way.

“More and more states have legalized it and the sun continues to come up and the sky didn’t fall,” Pushkin said. “What you’re seeing is millions of dollars in tax revenue, thousands of legal jobs with benefit and safe work environments.

“I don’t want to see West Virginia left behind. I want to see it brought into the 21st century.”

Pushkin argued that making medical and adult-use cannabis legal would make people travel and stay in West Virginia, citing what has happened in Colorado.

“When the governor gave a press conference yesterday where he invited counties in Virginia to come to West Virginia….You want people to come to West Virginia? Legalize cannabis for adult use. I guarantee people would come to West Virginia then,” Pushkin said.

“We need to make this a destination state, not a departure state.”

Just last week, House Democrats asked Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch to speed up the process of an economic study regarding the use of cannabis. Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said the marijuana industry has the potential to “blow the lid off” on tourism.

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