Thanks to Gov. Jim Justice’s signature on SB 386, also known as the Creating WV Medical Cannabis Act, the Mountain State now has a (smoke-free) medical marijuana program.
As written, the Creating WV Medical Cannabis Act allows patients with the following conditions to qualify for the state’s program:
- Chronic or debilitating disease
- Palliative care/hospice
- Wasting syndrome
- Chronic pain that is non-responsive to standard pain medication
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
Passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates after some “technical changes” on a 74-24 vote, the bill suffers some serious shortcomings for those cash-strapped qualifying patients. Called a “good first step” by some, the bill prohibits any smoking of the medicinal herb, bans patients from cultivating their own medicine, and establishes substantial fees for cultivators, dispensaries, and processors.
Initially passed by the West Virginia Senate on Wednesday, March 29 by a vote of 28-6, that iteration was considerably more patient friendly. The bill suffered drastic changes on its way through the West Virginia House earlier this week. John Shott, the Republican House Judiciary Chairman, introduced an amendment that made the bill more palatable for some and more offensive for others, according to the West Virginia Gazette-Mail:
Supporters of the original bill took issue with his proposal because it prohibited smoking and required marijuana to be administered in a pill, oil, topical form, by vaporization or nebulization, tincture, liquid or dermal patch; because it prevented people from growing their own plants; and because it set a $100,000 annual fee for growers and processors.
After some late night arm twisting, in which the annual cultivation fees were cut in half, West Virginia’s medical marijuana program will now to be governed and overseen by the State Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health. And per the text of SB 386, no more than 15 cultivation licenses will be issued to qualifying applicants. The application process is scheduled to begin on June 1, 2019, at which point those hopeful cultivators will have to pass a rigorous background check.
Though seeming like baby steps for some, this still represents monumental progress for the afflicted residents of West Virginia.