West Virginia’s governor has signed into law a bill that legalizes medical marijuana.
Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 386 into law today, a day before April 20, the unofficial cannabis holiday. The signing of the bill makes West Virginia the 29th state in the nation to enact legislation allowing seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
SB 386, titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, was introduced by Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and substantially amended in the House before receiving final legislative approval on April 6. It charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form. A summary of the bill is available at http://bit.ly/2nbUAq3.
“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”
Six states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws in the past 12 months. Three of those laws, including West Virginia’s, passed through Republican-controlled legislatures. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Ohio approved them last April and June, respectively. The other three were approved by voters in November in states won by Donald Trump — Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.
“Intensifying public support and a growing body of evidence are driving the rapid growth in the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws,” Simon said. “Lawmakers are also learning about marijuana’s medical benefits from friends, family members, and constituents who have experienced them firsthand in other states. More than nine out of 10 American voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. In light of this near universal support, it is shocking that some legislatures still have not adopted effective medical marijuana laws.”
A February 2017 Quinnipiac University Poll found 93% of U.S. voters think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes.
Effective medical marijuana laws have now been enacted in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. An additional 18 states have adopted medical marijuana laws that are ineffective because they are either unworkable or exceptionally restrictive. Only three states — Idaho, Indiana, and Kansas — have not approved any form of medical marijuana law.