Ashton Marra Published

Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Bill


Senators have approved a bill to create a medicinal cannabis program in the state. Senate Bill 386 was approved on a 28 to 6 vote Wednesday night in the chamber.

The bill would create a 17-member medical cannabis commission under the West Virginia Department of Health and human Resources that would largely be responsible for creating the rules of the program. 

That commission would send rules back to the Legislature during the 2018 session for approval, allowing the program to actually begin in July of 2018.

Senate Bill 386 includes a list of illnesses for which a doctor could certify that a patient could use marijuana medicinally. The list includes post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, seizures, and anxiety disorders.

Patients with a prescription under the bill would be allowed to grow two plants for their own personal usage.

“Now, I know we could sit here all night long and we can talk about it’s a gateway drug. Like I said, it’s a gateway drug away from opioids and it’s a gateway to a better life for somebody who may only have two months to live,” the bill’s lead sponsor Democratic Sen. Richard Ojeda said during a floor speech before the vote. “This is the one opportunity that we have to do something and this is historic.” 

The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act had 12 sponsors in the Senate, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for its consideration.