WV lawmakers reviewing draft for medical marijuana bill - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV lawmakers reviewing draft for medical marijuana bill

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West Virginia state lawmakers are in the process of reviewing a proposal that would legalize medical marijuana in the Mountain State. The joint committee on health met Wednesday, Nov. 20 to discuss potential legislation surrounding the issue.

Chief Counsel for the House Committee on Health and Resources Charles Roskovensky briefly presented rough drafts to legislators during an interim meeting. If the bill passed, people with "debilitating medical conditions" (i.e. cancer, post traumatic stress disorder) could obtain, carry, and use medical marijuana.

The meeting agenda called for a "discussion" of medical marijuana, but only a handful of lawmakers asked Roskovensky questions. Committee chairman Don Perdue (D-Wayne) called the draft "comprehensive." He said he expects lawmakers to make more comments and recommendations once they read the 50-page draft.

"To a degree, I was expecting a few more questions," Perdue said. "But having said that, this is the first time our legislators have had the chance to look at drafted legislation."

Del. Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) said he's optimistic legalization efforts could pass in 2014.

"I believe that the support is out there from the public, and I believe they've reached out to the legislators," said Manypenny, who's introduced legalization bills for the past three years.

The draft outlines potential provisions surrounding medical marijuana. If the bill passes, patients with "debilitating medical conditions" could carry up to six ounces of medical marijuana. Other sections protect patients and caregivers from discrimination. For example, schools and landlords cannot refuse to enroll or lease to a person just because they legally use medical marijuana.

Del. Kelli Sobonya (R-Cabell) raised questions about the registry identification cards patients that would be required for patients.

"Teenagers manufacture fake IDs in college for underage drinking and there's always that concern that, ‘Will this get to the right person?'" Sobonya said.

Both supporters and opponents of legalization agreed it's nearly impossible to stop people from creating fake IDs altogether. Manypenny suggested holograms could eliminate some fake cards.

Twenty states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana. West Virginia legislators have previously rejected proposed legalization efforts during session.

Lawmakers met several times this year to discuss the issue of medical marijuana. In September, lawmakers heard from lobbyists and health policy professionals.

The regular legislative session starts in January.