WV lawmaker wants to legalize medical marijuana - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV lawmaker wants to legalize medical marijuana

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It's been a called a gateway drug by some. Others claim it's the only treatment that works.

The debate over legalizing medical marijuana has come to West Virginia. Monday, Del. Mike ManyPenny (D-Grafton) presented House Bill 4498.

The bill would allow patients with a wide variety of serious, debilitating conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, and severe pain, to use medical marijuana with prescription from a doctor.

Supporters of the bill said it is a great weapon against fighting these painful diseases.

Critics of the medical marijuana initiatives say weakening the prohibition against the drug could send the message to young people that smoking pot ‘ok.'

13News spoke with a number of people who said they don't have a problem with it as long as it's regulated.

"I understand the importance of medication and people being treated properly for disease…and if this can help make someone with cancer feel better I'm for it," said David Wisz of Charleston.

Del. ManyPenny said he would like other lawmakers to consider legislation which would allow patients with a wide variety of conditions use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

"It's the most severe ailments people could have that would use the drug…there are fewer side effects from medical cannabis than there are from most prescription drugs," said ManyPenny.

He said the natural plant could be used in place of heavy narcotics, drugs like oxycontin, prescription drugs already posing problems across the mountain state.

"I have been a strong supporter to curb substance abuse, but this is a completely different animal," said ManyPenny.

He said 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation similar to this bill which can be very cost effective.

"We have the highest rating of disabled people per capita and those people are paying between $700 and $1,000 dollars a month for prescriptions.

The bill will be discussed now by the House Health and Human Resources committee.