Senate Bill 386, which would make medical marijuana legal in West Virginia, passed the State Senate on Wednesday night by a vote of 28-6.
The primary sponsor of Senate Bill 386 is Democratic Senator Richard Ojeda of Logan County.
The bill would create the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Commission, and would detail responsibilities and create a special revenue account. The Commission would also oversee revenue sources and disbursements, set requirements to become a certifying physician, and license medical cannabis growers and agents that must meet certain requirements.
Reports would also be required to be sent to the Governor and Legislature each year. The Bill also would set parameters for the State Police and Commission regarding people being licensed, registered, and authorized not be subject to arrest or any other kind of penalty. It would additionally create a new criminal offense for anyone who would be found distributing, possessing, manufacturing or using marijuana that has been diverted from authorized medicinal use.
Advocates say that it is a safer alternative to help ease debilitating medical conditions, while opponents say that there just is not enough research.
Democratic Delegate Shawn Fluharty of Ohio County commented on the Senate’s passing of the bill on Wednesday night.
“Medical marijuana overwhelmingly passed in the Senate. Leadership in the House owes it to the citizens of West Virginia to run the bill so we can pass this legislation. Twenty-eight states (including Ohio and Pennsylvania) have already enacted this law which helps decrease opioid overdoses and allows patients to get the proper medicine they desperately need without being treated as a criminal,” Fluharty said.
The bill will now go to the House of Delegates for a vote.