|Marijuana Policy Project’s Matt Simon.|
West Virginia lawmakers have begun considering the possibility of allowing for legal medical marijuana use and cultivation in their state. As we reported earlier this week, an interim joint health committee (no pun intended) has been called to evaluate whether legalizing medical cannabis is the right move for the state. Yesterday was the first of the hearings, with Marijuana Policy Project analyst and spokesman Matt Simon taking the stand and urging politicians in his home state to come to their senses.
“Those are some of the really tragic cases in my opinion, patients who have to move to another state just to try a plant that would work for them,” Simon told lawmakers.
In his testimony, Simon gave legislators a broad overview of legal medical cannabis in the 20 other states that allow it. He pointed out that not all states allow for home cultivation, which seems to be a concern for some lawmakers afraid that people will start selling their excess meds. Simon also pointed out that a large number of medical marijuana patients prefer eating their herb to smoking it.
“But many patients do prefer the edibles, particularly if you have severe pain and you want to sleep through the night a brownie a couple of hours before dinner may help people,” Simon said, according to the West Virginia Metro News.
While some legislators remained skeptical and questioned Simon on things like teen usage rates and impaired driving statistics. But he did have at least one supporter in Del. Margaret Staggers, who pointed out that even the federal government has acknowledged that marijuana has some medicinal value at this point.
“The facts are already there, this is a good drug,” Staggers said. “Certainly people can abuse it but they abuse things like oxygen and water too.”
The hearings aren’t tied to any pending medical marijuana legislation, though they are part of a bill passed last session requiring the legislature to formally look into the matter. That said, Del. Mike Manypenny has unsuccessfully pushed medical marijuana legislation in the past and says he’s going to keep trying.