Welcome the brave new world of medical marijuana acceptance.
When most see news reports in the press or on the Internet about California, Oregon, Colorado or New Jersey discussing the medicinal application of cannabis for certain diseases. Somewhere south of half the populace ‘roll their eyes‘ and discount it as “liberal craziness.” Yet in the predominately “God-fearing” Christian state of West Virginia, the idea of medicating with a natural plant, over a prescribed opiate is beginning to take root.
Rachel Molenda- Legislation was proposed Tuesday that could add West Virginia to the list of 18 other states and the District of Columbia that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons.
The Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act of 2013 would impact patients suffering from debilitating diseases such as cancer, glaucoma and those that produce severe pain, according to the bill.
Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, has introduced this legislation twice before. This year is the first he has had co-sponsors, which he suggests is due to medicinal marijuana becoming a less controversial topic.
“I have proven that it isn’t as controversial of an issue as everyone has thought it has been in the past,” Manypenny said. “I have worked to educate them and let them know the reasons why I introduced this and have made this a cause of mine.”
Eastern Panhandle Delegate Larry D. Kump, R-Berkeley, is one of nine lawmakers who have signed onto the bill. Kump said his reasons for sponsoring the proposed legislation are both personal and a matter of principle.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer three times, Kump said he has dealt with the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting. Doctors once suggested to him to use marijuana to relieve such issues, but medicinal marijuana wasn’t legal in any part of the country at the time.
“That convinced me early on about the medical benefits of marijuana,” Kump said, though he added he has never smoked marijuana.
Kump said he supports the legislation because of his strong belief in the Tenth Amendment.
“I believe that the states have the right to regulate marijuana, since that right is not specifically given to the federal government in the constitution,” Kump said.
The proposed legislation would provide protection for those who use medical marijuana and their caregivers, but it would also require that both parties be registered. It would create what the bill calls “compassion centers,” which are dispensaries, Manypenny said.
Manypenny said he believes the legalization of medicinal marijuana would decrease the amount of prescription drug abuse in the state. Sales tax from marijuana would be put into a drug abuse prevention fund, according to the legislation.
“We lose lives every day to opiate addiction and overdose, and most of those are due to accidental overdose,” Manypenny said. “People have a lot of pain, and they’re trying to control that. … So they take more than they’re supposed to and the result is it shuts down their autonomous nervous system. Marijuana cannot do that.”