“How could you turn your back on a loved one who is suffering? This is a vehicle for our doctors to help the people.” With that provocative statement, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday signed the Medical Cannabis Act.
West Virginia now becomes the 29th state to have medical marijuana program — and the sixth state to do it in the past year. The new law does not allow smoking or edible products, but a person will be permitted to obtain cannabis pills, oil or topical lotions.
Gov. Justice was joined for the historic signing ceremony by Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), two of the initiative’s primary supporters.
‘This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” according to Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state,” said Simon, a native of West Virginia.
The state’s Bureau for Public Health will administer the program. Qualified patients will receive an ID card allowing them to visit a medical marijuana dispensary. The state will begin the program with 30 dispensaries and 10 growers.
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“We have done something that is goodness in my book,” Gov. Justice said. “I don’t want to do anything to hurt or worsen the situation but in this situation, I think the public has spoken and we have spoken. Now, let’s try to help as many people as we possibly can.”
Cannabis can be prescribed to West Virginians suffering from chronic health conditions, such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, and cancer. Also, terminally ill patients, given one year or less to live, will be eligible for medical cannabis.