CHARLESTON – Delegate Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) introduced a bill last week to allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. It has been referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee, and advocates are calling on the committee to hold a hearing on the bill. Similar bills have been denied hearings in the past two legislative sessions.
“There is an abundance of evidence demonstrating the benefits medical marijuana can provide to people suffering from a variety of debilitating medical conditions,” said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “People with diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis who might benefit from medical marijuana take this issue very seriously, and they expect their elected officials to take it very seriously, as well.”
“It would be unconscionable to deny a hearing on this bill again,” Simon said.
The Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis, or H.B. 2230, allows patients with specific debilitating medical conditions to privately possess up to six ounces of marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The new law initially establishes five tightly regulated compassion centers across the state to provide patients with safe, reliable access to medical marijuana. Patients would also have the option of privately cultivating up to 12 plants in their homes.
“A majority of West Virginia voters want to see the state take a more sensible and compassionate approach to medical marijuana,” Simon said. “We sincerely hope the state’s representatives recognize that many of the voters who support medical marijuana are the same voters who elected them to office.”
“At the very least, they owe the voters their consideration of the proposal and a fair hearing,” Simon said.
A majority of West Virginia voters think the state should enact a law allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it, according to a poll conducted last month by Public Policy Polling (PPP). Specifically, it found voters in the state support medical marijuana by a 13-point margin, with 53% in favor and just 40% opposed. The survey of 1,232 West Virginia voters was conducted January 7-9. The full results can be downloaded at http://www.mpp.org/WVpoll.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians. Lawmakers in 12 states have introduced similar legislation this year, and medical marijuana bills are expected to be brought forward in an additional seven states.