CHARLESTON, WV — A lawmaker in West Virginia introduced a bill Friday that would allow patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to use and possess medical marijuana with the recommendation from their doctor.
House Bill 2230, The Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis, was introduced by Delegate Mike Maypenny (D-Taylor County).
If passed, HB 2230 would allow patients to possess up to six ounces of medical marijuana.
The bill would also create five compassion centers across the state to allow patients safe access to their medicine, and patients or designated caregivers would be allowed to grow up to 12 cannabis plants in their home.
The bill has been assigned to the House Health and Human Resources committee.
Delegate Maypenny was the sole sponsor of similar medical marijuana bills in the past two legislative sessions, but they failed to receive hearings in legislative committee and subsequently died without action.
This year, Maypenny’s bill has five additional co-sponsors, a sign that lawmakers’ attitudes on the subject are changing.
Medical marijuana advocates hope that the additional support in the legislature will allow this bill to at least receive a hearing, and hopefully a vote by the legislature.
“There is no reason this should not be discussed,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “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 added. “We are seeing a lot of discussions going on right now, even in states like Alabama and North Carolina. There is no excuse for not giving this issue a proper hearing.”
A statewide poll by Public Policy Polling, conducted in January 2013, reported that 53 percent of respondents approve of allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia already allow the medical use of marijuana. At least twelve other states are considering medical marijuana legislation this year, with at least half of those bills heavily favored to pass.
Medical marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Earlier this week, two separate bills were introduced to the United States Congress that would reclassify marijuana for medical use, and allow states to create their own medical marijuana laws without federal interference.