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Legalized Weed for WV?

A bill introduced by Delegate Mike Manypenny is sitting in the House Health and Human Resources Committee that would allow the sale of medical marijuana in West Virginia. It’s the third time Manypenny has put forward legislation on the matter, but the first time he has been able to recruit co-sponsors.

The bill, called “The Compassionate Medical Mrijuana Act of 2013” would allow cannabis use for a list of medical conditions, including glaucoma, chronic pain and cancer. The full text of the bill can be read here.

According to reporting in the Journal News, one of the sponsors, Delegate Larry Kump, signed on because of a personal battle with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy. Currently, nausea and anorexia from chemo is the only approved medical condition for which a marijuana derived drug (Marinol) can be prescribed. Kump has fought bouts of cancer three different times. Kump said he never tried marijuana himself for the symptoms.

One new aspect, not commonly claimed by cannabis supporters, is the possibility that legalized marijuana would reduce the current trend in abuse of prescription drugs. This, along with the possibility of a state tax on marijuana sales, makes legalization attractive. In contrast to prescription narcotics, which can be addictive and put someone on the path toward a full opiate addiction, marijuana has not been shown to be a gateway drug.

Getting a bill into committee is only the first step toward a vote on the floor. The Health and Human Resources Committee has about 50 bills currently before it, ranging from several about abortion to one that would lower the restrictions on suboxone, a drug used in the treatment of narcotic addiction.

As other states move toward more permissible laws on cannabis, marijuana remains strongly prohibited in our state with penalties as high as 5 years in prison for sale of the drug (penalties double for subsequent convictions).

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