Delegate Mike Maypenny, a democrat from Taylor County, introduced House Bill 2961 on Tuesday, which would allow for a medical marijuana program in West Virginia.
This is the second bill introduced by Maypenny regarding medical marijuana this session. His first bill, HB 2230, submitted in February, did not provide protections for doctors who recommend medical marijuana to patients among other things. Maypenny has said he is putting all of his efforts into his new proposal.
If approved, House Bill 2961 would allow registered medical marijuana patients to possesses up to six ounce of marijuana and grow up to twelve marijuana plants and twelve seedlings at a time. In addition to state-regulated dispensaries, the program would also allow for people to act as caregivers for up to five people. The bill would also allow for reciprocity for patients from other states so long as they have qualifying
Another major difference is that the new HB 2961 has ten sponsors including Maypenny, whereas the first had none. It also calls for one medical marijuana dispensary - called "compassion centers" in the bill - for every 200,000 people in the state. It also gives regulatory powers to the state Department of Human Resources.
West Virginia Del. Mike Maypenny.
Despite the improved language, Maypenny tells West Virginia Public Broadcasting that the bill has a slim chance of making it through the House, let alone to the Senate and on to the Governor for approval.
"The likelihood that we could pass it, granting that it is coming up very late, is remote. But, I do think it affords an opportunity for it to be discussed in greater detail within this session and, perhaps, within the context of the interim meetings that we'll have after the session."
Both bills were assigned to the House Health Committee.
Currently, possession of any amount for any reason is a misdemeanor in West Virginia punishable by anywhere from 90 days to six months in jail along with a $1,000 fine. The same goes for paraphernalia charges. Trafficking marijuana will get you a mandatory minimum of one year in jail with up to five years if the judge is feeling particularly prickly that day.