Today is 4/20 and what better way to honor this national holiday for the cannabis world than to discuss marijuana. For West Virginia, they are on track to become the latest state to legalize forms of cannabis for medial use as Governor Jim Justice has signed Senate Bill 386 into law on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 386 — the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act — would create a state cannabis commission that would be responsible for developing policies and regulations to make medical cannabis available to qualifying patients.
On Thursday, April 6th, lawmakers in West Virginia voted 28-6 in favor of passing Senate Bill 386 – the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act. The bill was then sent to Governor Jim Justice to be officially passed as a law, and on Wednesday Justice signed the bill into law.
What does this bill mean for West Virginia?
The passing of Senate Bill 386 does not mean that state residents can just walk around and smoke a joint. The bill is for medical purposes only. According to WV MetroNews, registered physicians would be allowed to prescribe marijuana for patients suffering from a list of conditions, including chronic diseases, muscle spasms and seizures. The bill doesn’t even allow for smoking.
The newly passed bill allows for consumption through pills, oils, topical treatments and mists. The bill does not allow for growing of marijuana, regardless of being certified.
The legalization of medical marijuana can become a factor for a state struggling from a serious opioid epidemic. According to US News, 818 people died in West Virginia due to drug overdose in 2016, up 13 percent from 2015.
A new report out from Drug and Alcohol Dependance found that medical marijuana policies lead to a 23% percent drop from opioid related hospitalizations. New Mexico is another state trying to actively find ways for medical marijuana to be used a way to cut back on opioid addiction.
Matt Simon, from the Marijuana Policy Project, had this to say about the bill in a quote from WV MetroNews, “For many patients, medical marijuana is a far safer alternative to opioids and other prescription drugs. Any delegates who are serious about addressing the opiate crisis in West Virginia need to consider the substantial benefits this law could have on that front.”
In addition to providing relief to the opioid epidemic, the bill also establishes a marijuana commission. This commission will have a fund appropriated by the legislature, and ten percent of funds will be directed towards education programs on marijuana as well as drug recovery programs.
West Virginia residents are expressing their satisfaction with the passing of this bill.
Residents clearly feel there was a need for this legislation to be signed into law. There is still some time before this law becomes effective in July of 2018. There is time for the state to look at this bill and determine all the benefits that could come from this. Clearly the state feels that there is beneficial potential with medical marijuana and we can only hope that this bill can help the epidemic in this state.