Medical marijuana has been a serious topic of discussion in West Virginia legislature since the beginning of the current session – and there was hardly a delay once Senate Bill 386 started making it’s way through the Senate and House. It was less than two weeks ago that the Senate passed the bill over to the House for consideration, and on Tuesday the House of Delegates approved the bill with a 76-24 vote in favor of medical marijuana. However, there were some revisions, which were sent back to the House for consideration. The bill was approved the next day with additional revisions from the Senate with a vote of 28-6. It was then sent back over to the House, who agreed on the revisions, sending the bill over to Governor Jim Justice for signature.
“This will be an important and, in some cases, life-saving program,” Simon said in a news release. “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.”
The amended version of Senate Bill 386 now looks a lot more like the bill originally introduced to the House. It would allow for medical marijuana in the form of tinctures, extracts, capsules, and oils – but it will not allow for cannabis flower that could be smoked, where the original version would have allowed smoking. The original SB386 would have also allowed for home growing, and this new version will not.
Instead of creating a Medical Cannabis Commission, this bill puts the tasks of providing patient ID cards and licensing cannabis facilities under the supervision of the Bureau of Public Health. It also provides a specific list of qualifying conditions – including cancer, AIDS, seizure disorders, PTSD, chronic pain and more – unlike the Senate version which was much more open-ended as far as what conditions would allow patients access to medical marijuana.
“I can tell you with great certainty that this bill is not bringing cannabis to West Virginia because it’s been here longer than any of us has been here,” Pushkin said. “What we’re doing is bringing some of it out of the shadows. The most important thing is we’re allowing some people to alleviate their suffering.”
The Senate approved the new version of the bill regardless of the changes – deciding passing medical marijuana legislation was more important than exactly which version gets passed right now. The bill would have patient ID cards being issued by July 2019 – although hopefully there is a way for them to move that date up so patients don’t have to wait much longer for the medicine they need. Governor Justice has shown support for medical marijuana in the past and is expected to sign this legislation, so very soon we will likely be able to count West Virginia as the 29th state to legalize medical marijuana.