West Virginia Senate Committee approves Medical Marijuana Bill

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on March 27, 2017.

Members of the Senate Health and Human Resources committee passed a bill on Friday that would legalize medical marijuana in West Virginia.

The bill SB386, also known as the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, was approved by 6-5 vote with several amendments. It now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration. After passing there, the measure would advance to the state Senate and then in the House of Delegates for a full vote.

The bill would allow West Virginia doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for a list of diseases that are set out in the bill. It creates a system for growers to supply the drugs, doctors to apply to be able to prescribe it and gives oversight to a new commission within the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

The committee gave the green light to the bill with two important amendments.

The first amendment, offered by Senator Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, would allow anyone with a prescription for medical marijuana to grow two plants in his or her home for personal use. The other amendment, offered by Senator Ron Stollings, D-Boone, would allocate 10 percent of contracting proceeds to drug prevention and rehabilitation.

“We have a massive problem with opiate addiction," Stollings said. "The physicians' hands are being tied by various regulations and I think this does give us another tool in the toolbox.”

Those in favor of the bill say access to medical usage will result in few opioid deaths and less prescription painkiller abuse. However, opponents of the bill say more research needs to happen, it's too dangerous to use and it lacks approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Currently, 28 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medical purposes though marijuana is illegal under the federal law.

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