EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSW.Va. Lawmakers Hear Medical Marijuana Presentation
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Sep. 25, 2013 5:27 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 25, 2013 6:40 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Is medical marijuana right for West Virginia?
That's the question lawmakers are faced with as they start their fact finding mission during a hearing at the state Capitol on Wednesday.
This is not a new issue lawmakers have been tasked with, but at least one delegate who's been spearheading the effort to legalize medical marijuana says it's gaining more steam than ever.
"They say, 'Why do you want to legalize marijuana?' I don't want to legalize marijuana," Del. Mike Manypenny, D- Taylor, said
For years, he's been on a mission he believes is often misunderstood. His bill isn't to legalize pot in West Virginia, it's to legalize medical marijuana for the chronically ill.
"There's research out there that really shows validity for this to be a medicine," he said.
Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, is telling state lawmakers that permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes can be a revenue generator for the state, although he said helping patients who need it is more important.
Simon made the comments on Wednesday to an interim committee studying medical marijuana issues.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 20 states and the District of Columbia permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Marijuana is still outlawed under federal law, however.
Simon told lawmakers public opinion on legalizing marijuana is shifting toward allowing it and that it can be used to treat several illnesses.
"I truly believe had this been available to my father, there's no question, I believe he would be here with us today," Norman Jones of Clay County said. His father died of colon cancer and he believes medical marijuana would have been extremely beneficial during his battle.
"There's so many medical benefits for this and I think we really should look into it," Jones said.
Others are not convinced of those benefits.
"It's just going to start a whole marijuana frenzy, people are going to come up with I need it for this, I need it for that. I just don't believe it," Linda Murray said.
Manypenny said the taxes generated would actually go toward fighting the drug problem in the state.
"In my bill I try to find balance by taxes generated would go to help substance abuse treatment programs in the state as well as drug prevention in schools," he said.
No specific legislation that would allow the use of medical marijuana in West Virginia was discussed during the hearing.
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