West Virginia Legislature will consider improving medical cannabis law in 2018
Last update: February 14, 2018
On April 19, 2017, Gov. Jim Justice signed West Virginia’s medical cannabis bill, SB 386, making West Virginia the 29th state to pass an effective medical marijuana law. The bill passed the Senate in a 28-6 vote on March 29, and it passed the House on April 4 in a 76-24 vote.
Unfortunately, the House amended the bill and made it much more restrictive before passing it, including by prohibiting marijuana in its natural, flower form. A summary of the law is here.
Several bills have already been introduced in 2018 seeking to make the law more workable for patients. SB 487 would make several positive changes to the law, including allowing patients and caregivers to grow their own limited supply of cannabis and making whole plant cannabis available at dispensaries. It would also make it easier for patients to qualify and would eliminate onerous restrictions on doctors. A summary of SB 487 is available here.
Additionally, HB 4147 would require the state to begin issuing ID cards to qualified patients and caregivers in July 2018 instead of July 2019, and HB 4149 would allow cannabis flowers. If you live in West Virginia, please contact your elected officials and urge them to support improving the law.
An advisory board tasked with making policy recommendations began holding meetings in August 2017. More information about the advisory board and the medical cannabis program can be found at the website for the Office of Medical Cannabis.
Think tank reports that legalization would boost West Virginia’s economy, provide safer alternative to opioids
In August 2016, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy published an in-depth report examining the potential economic and budgetary impacts of legalizing marijuana in the state. They concluded that West Virginia could raise approximately $45 million in taxes and save $17 million currently spent on enforcement. The report also noted that “marijuana may potentially have a positive impact on West Virginia’s opioid-based painkiller and heroin epidemic by offering another, less-addictive alternative to individuals who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions.”
If you are supportive and are a medical professional, a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, or you know someone else that is, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help. Please be sure to include your address or nine-digit ZIP code so we can help you identify your elected officials.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in West Virginia, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.