On the first day of the 2017 legislative session in West Virginia, a group called West Virginia Green is the New Black hosted a rally on the steps of the State Capital that they dubbed the “Make it Legal Rally”. While the group supports the legalization of cannabis across the board, this particular rally was aimed at pushing for medical marijuana legalization – and it wasn’t just members of the group who showed up. They were joined by patients and parents of children who would benefit from medical marijuana, as well as a handful of legislators who support medical cannabis.
“It will create a new revenue stream and it will create an opportunity for industry,” Bragg said. “Twenty -eight states have already medically legalized which means we can take everything they’ve done right and everything they’ve done wrong and start over and build something that works for us.”
David Bragg is the founder of the organization that organized the Make it Legal Rally, and he hopes to talk to as many individual lawmakers as possible about the benefits of legalizing medical marijuana. Hopefully he is successful in his mission to at least get them thinking – maybe even changing a few minds along the way, which is important because at least one lawmaker is hoping to pave the way for legalization by starting with a bill that would make cannabis oil legal for patients with seizure conditions. Yet another lawmaker hopes to see medical marijuana available to a larger number of patients.
The bill that would make cannabis oil for seizure conditions legal is expected to be introduced by Delegate Mick Bates, and it is likely the bill that will get the most attention from lawmakers, especially the more conservative ones. CBD-only laws tend to be popular in more conservative states, but they don’t give access to enough patients and in some cases don’t provide a way for patients to legally access the medicine at all. Hopefully, if this bill does go through it will create a regulated cultivation, processing and dispensing industry that will provide the cannabis oil for these patients.
“There is already a marijuana industry and we’re making nothing off of it. We’re imprisoning people. What I want, ultimately, is a regulated industry that people can use, when they need it, but will also disincentivise the black markets that are already existing and give other options to people,” Bragg said.
Delegate Mike Pushkin first brought up medical marijuana at the West Virginia Associated Press Legislative Lookahead. When bringing it up, Pushkin cited both the potential benefits of medical marijuana, as well as ways it could help the state with their current budgeting crisis. At the rally, he stated that he intends to introduce a medical marijuana bill, and went on to say that “It’s very hard to tell them that this substance that could potentially help them, is off limits.”
With the hope of two new medical marijuana bills being introduced, groups like West Virginia Green is the New Black will likely become more active – and hopefully the Make it Legal Rally was only one of many ways they will try to encourage lawmakers to make this change. Medical marijuana bills have been introduced in the past in the state without getting very far – but maybe there is more of a chance now, with over half of the country now offering medical cannabis as an option for some patients. Those without such laws will likely start losing more and more residents to states where it is available because people can only wait so long for a better quality of life.