West Virginia Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Approved by Legislature, Governor Expected to Sign

West Virginia’s legislature has approved a bill that would make West Virginia the 29th state to adopt an comprehensive medical marijuana law. Governor Jim Justice is expected to sign it into law.

Senate Bill 386 received final approval in the West Virginia Legislature on Thursday and is headed to the desk of Governor Jim Justice. Justice has publicly expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana and is expected to sign the bill into law.

Senate Bill 386, introduced by Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan), received initial approval from the Senate last week (28-6). The House substantially amended the bill before approving it on Tuesday (76-24). The Senate passed the new version on concurrence Wednesday afternoon (28-6), along with some minor amendments, and the House signed off on the final version Thursday (74-24).

“Some of the House amendments to the bill are concerning, but it still has the potential to provide relief to thousands of seriously ill West Virginians,” says Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “We commend the Legislature for passing this compassionate and much-needed legislation, and we encourage Gov. Justice to sign it into law.”

Simon continues; “This will be an important and, in some cases, life-saving program. 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.”

SB 386, titled the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, 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. This differs from the original version of the bill and the medical marijuana programs in most other states. A summary of SB 386 is available at http://bit.ly/2nbUAq3.

“There is nearly universal support for legalizing medical marijuana in the U.S., and it spans the political spectrum,” Simon said. “This is the third state in a row to pass a medical marijuana bill through a Republican-controlled House and Senate. Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue with some other states and at the federal level.”

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