West Virginia Becomes the 29th Medical Marijuana State


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Today, West Virginia officially became the 29th state to pass medical marijuana legislation!

Gov. Jim Justice signed the law today after the bipartisan bill passed both the Senate and House earlier this month.

While the law isn’t perfect, it’s a great start toward providing safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. A summary is available here.

This achievement didn’t happen overnight. In fact, MPP, along with many other advocates, has been working tirelessly to get a medical marijuana bill passed for years.

MPP released the following in a press release:

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”

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WV Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Bill


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West Virginia is on the verge of becoming the next state with an effective medical marijuana law!

The bill received final approval in the West Virginia Legislature on Thursday and is headed to the desk of Gov. Jim Justice. He has publicly expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana and is expected to sign the bill into law, making West Virginia the 29th state to adopt an effective medical marijuana law.

SB 386, titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form. This differs from the original version of the bill and the medical marijuana programs in most other states. A summary of SB 386 is available at http://bit.ly/2nbUAq3.

MPP issued the following statement in a press release:

“Some of the House amendments to the bill are concerning, but it still has the potential to provide relief to thousands of seriously ill WestVirginians,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “We commend the Legislature for passing this compassionate and much-needed legislation, and we encourage Gov. Justice to sign it into law.

“This will be an important and, in some cases, life-saving program,” Simon said. “It is critical that the state implement it promptly. We are committed to working with officials to make sure the program is as effective as possible and to get it up and running in a timely fashion. Many patients cannot afford to wait much longer.

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West Virginia House of Delegates Approves Medical Marijuana Bill With Amendments


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A bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it was approved by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday. SB 386 passed 76-24 on third reading after being revised on second reading.

SB 386 was originally introduced by Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) in the Senate, where it was approved 28-6 last week. The House version of the bill, which is titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, would charge the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries, while the Senate version would set up a 16-member independent commission. Under the amended House bill, patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions could use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form. This differs from the Senate version of the bill and most of the other state medical marijuana programs.

MPP issued the following statement in a press release:

“The Legislature has answered the prayers of many seriously ill West Virginians and their families,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “This could be life-saving legislation for some patients. We commend House members for working diligently to make sure it passes this year, but we urge the Legislature to continue efforts to make sure the program truly works for the seriously ill and to ensure it does not unnecessarily drive up costs.”

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Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in West Virginia


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Compassionate legislators in the West Virginia House and Senate introduced bills that would create a medical marijuana program in the state. In the House, Delegate Mike Pushkin and 11 co-sponsors introduced HB 2677, a comprehensive medical marijuana bill titled the “Patient Freedom Act.” In the upper chamber, Senator Richard Ojeda and 11 co-sponsors introduced SB 386, which would make medical marijuana legal and create a Medical Cannabis Commission to administer the program.

Unfortunately, House Speaker Tim Armstead has made it clear that he opposes medical marijuana. Your delegates and senators need to hear from you that this issue is important so they will be motivated to help convince the speaker that a medical marijuana law would be good for West Virginia.

If you are a West Virginia residentplease contact your state legislators today and tell them it’s time to move forward with a compassionate medical marijuana program.

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West Virginia Legislators Propose Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition


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The West Virginia Legislature failed to reform its marijuana policies in the 2015-2016 legislative session, primarily because House Speaker Tim Armstead continues to oppose even the most modest, incremental reforms.Seal_of_West_Virginia.svg Fortunately, now that a special session has been called, five delegates have decided this is an opportunity to raise the issue of marijuana legalization. Del. Mike Pushkin (D-Charleston) and a bipartisan group of four co-sponsors have introduced HB 114, which would make marijuana legal on a limited basis in West Virginia.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail published an editorial praising these legislators’ efforts, calling legalization an “excellent idea.” The Gazette-Mail noted that the bill “has no chance” of passing in the special session, but it still presents an important opportunity to raise the issue with elected officials.

If you are a West Virginia resident, please take a moment to contact your delegates and senators today and urge them to consider the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition.

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West Virginia Senate Leaders Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill


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The West Virginia House has considered medical marijuana bills in recent years, but such bills had not been introduced in the Senate. Yesterday, that situation changed in a big way, as a bipartisan group of three Senate leaders introduced a bill that would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill West Virginians. An identical bill, HB 2909, was introduced today in the House.

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Sen. Mitch Carmichael

SB 546, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Ripley), Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey Kessler (D-Glen Dale), and Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall (R-Oceana), has been introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources. The bill would allow qualifying patients to cultivate up to 12 mature plants and possess up to six ounces. It would also allow for the creation of state-regulated dispensaries that would serve the needs of patients.

HB 2909, which mirrors SB 546, is sponsored in the House by Delegate Stephen Skinner (D-Shepherdstown) and a bipartisan group of 10 co-sponsors.

If you are a West Virginia resident, please ask your lawmakers to support these compassionate bills. 

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Despite Increased Support, West Virginia Legislators Drop Medical Marijuana Study


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A new poll was released Monday showing increased support for allowing medical marijuana in West Virginia. The poll, which was commissioned by MPP and conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 56% of Mountain State residents support passing a medical marijuana law (up from 53% last January), and only 34% oppose laws that would allow patients to obtain and use medical marijuana (down from 40%). Results are available here.

If you live in West Virginia, share these poll results with your state legislators today!

The West Virginia Legislaturewest-virginia-child-support begins its 2014 general session Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Joint Committee on Health decided to conclude its offseason study without voting on the medical marijuana issue. It appears that, for political reasons, passing a medical marijuana law may be a difficult goal to achieve in an election year such as 2014. With elections coming up later this year, it is particularly important that legislators hear from you and other supporters today. They need to understand that public opinion has dramatically changed, and that most West Virginians support allowing patients to have safe, legal access to medical marijuana.

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West Virginia Moves Towards Medical Marijuana


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Del. Manypenny (left) and Matt Simon

A January poll showed that a majority of West Virginia voters support a law allowing medical marijuana in their state, and now their representatives are listening.  The WV Joint Committee on Health recently held hearings into the advantages of medical marijuana, and heard stories from patients around the state who seek its relief.  In addition, Del. Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) plans to reintroduce a bill this January that would establish a program to regulate medical marijuana.  Until then, lawmakers are studying medical marijuana policies across the country to find a plan that fits for West Virginia.

Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for MPP, wrote to the Charleston Gazette:

Lawmakers in Charleston are fortunate in that they can look at 20 other states’ laws and determine which features would work best for West Virginia. The fact that this process has already begun provides hope to countless seriously ill residents and their families, some of whom worry they might one day have to leave the state in order to follow their doctors’ advice.

It is time for state lawmakers to take a long, hard look at the evidence surrounding this issue and build upon the knowledge that has been gained from the hearings held this year. If they do so objectively, they will surely agree that West Virginia should be the next state to enact a sensible medical marijuana law.

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West Virginia Medical Marijuana Advocates Unopposed at Hearing


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Last Thursday’s hearing on West Virginia’s medical marijuana bill was an overwhelmingly positive experience that resulted in some great media coverage. Many thanks to all the patients, medical professionals, and other advocates who testified — you made a huge impact on the House Health and Human Resources Committee!

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Chairman Don Perdue

Remarkably, 18 people spoke in favor of the bill, and none were opposed. Chairman Don Perdue (D-Wayne) had been very reluctant to place this bill on the committee’s agenda, but he has now agreed to form a study committee that will give the bill the serious attention it deserves over the summer.

It’s unfortunate that the bill won’t be advancing to a vote in the legislature this year, but the outpouring of public support for HB 2961 has more than broken the ice — it has dramatically changed the way many West Virginia legislators view this issue.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced Again in West Virginia


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Manypenny

Last week, Delegate Mike Manypanny (D-Taylor) introduced a medical marijuana bill for the third time in the West Virginia Legislature, and this time it looks like people are taking a lot more notice.

It is certainly positive to see the media covering both sides of the issue, including MPP communications director Mason Tvert being quoted in the Charleston Gazette:

“There is no reason this should not be discussed. It is an issue taken up in dozens of states. It is time for it to be discussed in West Virginia.

“This is part of a nationwide increase in momentum. We’ve seen medical marijuana bills introduced throughout the country, including states many people might think would not be supportive,” Tvert said during a telephone interview.

A majority of West Virginia voters believe the state should enact a law allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana, according to a January 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Stay tuned for updates and coverage from the Mountain State!

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