WV Medical Cannabis Advisory Board hopes to broaden list of eligible patients

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Medical marijuana advocates in the Mountain State say, we’re overdue, to expand the list of who can have access to it.

West Virginia state lawmakers legalized medical cannabis in 2017, but the program continues to have trouble. Some say the guidelines for who can obtain it are too strict.

On Tuesday, the state medical cannabis advisory board held a meeting, in an effort to expand the small list of people who have access to medical marijuana. What they’re trying to do is allow doctors and practitioners to recommend medical cannabis to any patient they think could benefit from it.

“To be clear doctors are not prescribing cannabis in West Virginia, they can’t as a matter of federal law. But what they can do is certify patients that need access. And right now as our list is written its very narrow,” said, Jesse Forbes, the Attorney Member for WV Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Under West Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Act, there are only 14 qualifying conditions for patients to access to medical marijuana.

“We’re leaving a lot of people out if we adhere to that list and not only are we leaving folks out but also we’re putting barriers in front of the industry that’s making it hard for some folks to even get the doors open to the dispensaries,” said, Rusty Williams, the Patient Advocate for WV Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Now, the advisory board is asking to change the current law, and let doctors have a say in the decision. “If they’re a doctor that’s able to perform brain surgery and save your child while they’re dying. They don’t have to be second guessed by some legislative enactment to say hey this condition doesn’t meet having cannabis,” added, Forbes.

With the argument that the patients are the ones who are supposed to benefit from the bill in the first place. “I mean they didn’t pass this bill to create some industry they passed this bill to help patients, if they wanted to create an industry they would’ve passed a recreational bill,” said Forbes.

Another argument is the current bill not only limits patients access, but also business opportunities in the state. “Getting this program expanded getting the list expanded. It’s going to help everybody,” added, Williams.

At the meeting, with support of the Office of Medical Cannabis they voted unanimously to send their plan back to full board with the recommendation that it be adopted. It is expected to be voted on at their full board meeting on June 24.

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