There's growing talk about a medical marijuana bill being submitted in West Virginia in the coming months, with Del. Mike Manypenny announcing last week that he will make a fourth attempt at winning over his fellow lawmakers.
While the bill does face considerable challenges in the conservative state, Manypenny's last bill in 2013 managed to get nine co-sponsors as well as a hearing before the House Health and Human Resources Committee before failing to move forward to the House floor.
Manypenny's announcement comes a day after a statewide poll conducted by the Marijuana Policy Project that showed support for the compassionate use of cannabis by sick West Virginians by as much as 56 percent. He says that the time has come for West Virginia lawmakers to stop parsing data and lead with compassion.
"We do need to do a lot more research," Manypenny told the West Virginia Metro News. "But in the meantime, there are a lot of people out there that are suffering with a lot of different diseases that I believe could be treated with this rather than using a pharmaceutical that has 20 different side effects."
Rep. Mike Manypenny.
And it might not be a bad idea to write them. Del. John Ellem, a Republican from Wood, says he has been opposed to legislation in the past for being too broadly written, but admits that after a number of his constituents contacted about the matter he began looking closer. He says he wouldn't be opposed to considering a bill now if it had limited conditions.
Of course, it might not help with some of the more pigheaded legislators like State Sen. Donna Boley, a Republican from Pleasants. She says the state is already battling a massive prescription pill problem that marijuana would only exacerbate. When asked if she would even consider the bill by the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, she gave a one-word answer: "No."
And with a lot of legislators fighting for their jobs again in 2014, the bill might be an even harder sell.