Emily Rice Published

House Committee Moves To Add Marijuana To Controlled Substance Database

Marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
Marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
David McNew

The House Committee on Health and Human Resources passed House Bill 2756 Thursday which would require medical marijuana be added to the controlled substance monitoring database.

Supporters argued physicians should have access to these records in order to know what their patients are taking, even prescribed medical marijuana, in case of interactions with other medications.

Opponents said it was unnecessary to further record and report medical marijuana patients, beyond existing registries. Others voiced concerns about the privacy of patients and possibility of federal involvement with this type of registry.

Rusty Williams is the Patient Advocate on the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. He spoke against HB2756.

My biggest concern is for West Virginia Medical Cannabis Patients’ Second Amendment rights,” Williams said. “You know, right now, the only thing that protects West Virginia cannabis patients is a provision in the omnibus spending bill on the national level. Now, it used to be called the Rohrabacher Farr amendment. I’m not 100% sure what they call it now. But what that does is it prevents the DOJ from allocating any resources to go in and enforce federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized whether that be recreationally or medically.”

The Medical Cannabis Act includes a statute that sets up a registry of patients, but the registry is only accessible by law enforcement with provable probable cause.

Williams also said he has not met a single patient or doctor who has voiced concerns that would require medical marijuana be reported to the controlled substances database.

I do think it’s important that folks realize that the medical professionals on the advisory board, none of them have gone through the continuing education courses that physicians are required to complete to certify medical cannabis patients,” Williams said. “And in my opinion, they’re really coming from an uneducated place on this issue. I think there’s a lot of fear in the conversation. There’s a lot of propaganda and bad information thrown out there. And I worry that these potential recommendations could put patients in a position where, you know, they could lose their therapy.”

Del. Heather Tully, R-Nicholas, supported the bill, stating that she is a licensed provider and would make use of the proposed additions to the controlled substances database in treating her patients.

“I am a provider, I actually have a DEA license and I do prescribe medications,” Tully said. “So I do not have access to the information on who does and does not have a medical cannabis card, it probably would be a discussion I would have with the patient. However, there is no way to automatically know whether somebody is getting it, I think it is a good idea to allow your providers access to know who has these things. And so that way, you don’t make a fatal medication error or do not make a prescribing error.”

The bill passed the House committee and is headed to the Committee on the Judiciary and then to the House floor with the recommendation that it pass.