West Virginia medical marijuana users will remain illegal in the eyes of the law thanks to the House of Delegates refusing to allow a floor vote on a proposed medical marijuana bill earlier this week.
Despite nearly two-dozen supporters speaking on behalf of House Bill 2961 before the Health and Human Resources Committee – and not a single person speaking out against it – the chairman refused to move it forward.
The chairman of the committee tried to come across as being compassionate, saying that he was impressed with the support the bill received and urged people to not lose their passion on the subject. What condescending bullshit. If he really believed in what the supporters had been telling him, the bill would be moved forward.
Instead, West Virginia has to wait another year and hope that legislators take up discussion of the bill during the interim between this session and the 2014 session. As currently written, the bill would have allowed patients with qualifying conditions to possess up to six ounce of marijuana and twelve plants at a time and would have created five state-regulated dispensaries across the state.
|West Virginia Del. Mike Maypenny.|
The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Mike Manypenny, took the high road, commending the legislature on them even considering considering the bill over the summer. After all, this is the first time in three attempts that his bill has even made it to committee.
“In many states, that’s how the process has gone, because it’s been a controversial issue,” Manypenny said Tuesday to the Examiner. “It’s a good way to educate the rest of the legislators about the benefits that this could have on the citizens of the state.”
Still, the bill didn’t seem to have much of a chance from the start. Even at the time he submitted House Bill 2961 in March, Manypenny wasn’t convinced it would go anywhere: “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.”
Currently, possession of any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor in West Virginia punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Paraphernalia carries the same weight, but is punishable by up to $5,000 in fines. Sale or distribution of any amount is a felony with a mandatory one year in jail and up to $15,000 in fines.