CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senator Richard Ojeda of Logan County has introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state.
Ojeda was joined by senators Robert Beach, Douglas Facemire, Ronald Miller, Corey Palumbo, Mike Romano, Patricia Rucker, Ron Stollings, Chandler Swope, Mike Woelfel and Greg Boso in sponsorship of the bill.
The bill, SB 386, is known as the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act and would create a cannabis commission which would, “…develop policies, procedures, guidelines and regulations to implement programs to make medical cannabis available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner.”
The commission would be made up of the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources and the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and 13 others to be appointed by the governor.
The other appointees would be two members of the public who support the use of medical cannabis, one member designated by the West Virginia Association of Alcohol and Drug Counselors, three licensed physicians, a nurse practitioner with experience in hospice care, a scientist who has studied cannabis, a representative of the state Bar Association, a representative of law enforcement, an attorney with knowledge about medical cannabis law and a horticulturalist.
Commissioners would not be paid for their work on the commission; however, they would be entitled to reimbursement of expenses.
The bill would also create the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Fund which the commission would oversee.
Any remaining balance in the fund would be transferred to the general revenue fund at the end of each fiscal year.
The commission would also grant physicians who register with their body the ability prescribe the drug.
The bill explains physicians registered with the commission would also be required to submit reasons a patient would be would treated with marijuana including the patient’s, “…qualifying medical conditions.”
Doctors who prescribe cannabis to patients would also be required to turn in a plan, “…for the ongoing assessment and follow-up care of a patient for collecting and analyzing data.”
The bill encourages the commission to approve physician applications to treat patients in hospice care and medical conditions ranging from wasting syndromes, nausea, seizures to severe muscle spasms.
The bill adds, “The commission may approve applications that include any other condition that is severe and for which other medical treatments have been ineffective if the symptoms reasonably can be expected to be relieved by the medical use of cannabis.”
Ojeda did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the bill.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 or by email at [email protected]