While eight states in the USA legalized marijuana previous year, its neighbor to the north plans to become the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of the drug on a nationwide scale. The Governor was joined for the bill signing by two of the initiative's primary supporters, Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), as well as Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) and Dr. Rahul Gupta the State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Resources' Bureau for Public Health.
West Virginia is now the 29th state to allow the medical use of cannabis.
The medical marijuana will be available as pills; oils; for vaporization or nebulization; in topical forms, like gels, creams or ointments; tinctures; liquids or dermal patches.
According to the press release the bill will allow usage of medical cannabis for terminally ill West Virginians, and those who suffer from other health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and cancer.
The law doesn't authorize the sale of cannabis for smoking and patients can't grow their own plants. The law does not allow home cultivation, and patients can legally possess no more than a month's supply at a time. By Michael doing that, and taking that big step, we're here today. But it was done because it was the right thing to do. "This is a vehicle for our doctors to help the people". "If there is someone who is suffering and they seek this kind of relief, they're no longer criminalizing their behavior".
Knowing that "what I did was still technically illegal", Flanigan said he made a hard decision a year ago to share his story with others, including current lawmakers. "It's something that we are continuing to learn, evolve, but as Governor Justice said, if there's a way we can help people with compassion, for the chronic pain being at the heart of it, we must try to do that". The law also established a process by which people who are prescribed medical marijuana would be issued a certificate, which they would use to obtain a license to get their prescription.
One downside to West Virginia's law is a new standard for driving under the influence of marijuana that erroneously equates impairment with a blood THC level of three nanograms per milliliter.
"I think it's going to be up to the training, the clinical acumen and the wisdom of that physician to make a decision on behalf of that patient", Gupta said.