LOGAN, W.Va. — During an interview with the Logan Banner, state senator Richard Ojeda said he hopes his bill for legalized medical marijuana would help with the area’s opioid addiction problem.
“The bill gives doctors give practitioners the ability to prescribe medical marijuana for things they would normally prescribe opioids for. Opioids, as you know, have practically ripped our communities apart. My thoughts are that if medical marijuana can combat that and can help those who are normally with the opioids, then I say we let the doctors make that decision. They are the ones who have the training — let them do so,” explained Ojeda.
Ojeda noted he could understand people having a moral objection to the bill saying people have been conditioned to see marijuana as an evil substance.
“Since we have found with testing that it has shown to help people that go through multiple sclerosis and PTSD where 30 percent of every soldier that serves in a combat zone comes home with PTSD…I think it’s just time. I’m not trying to do this because I’m a fan of marijuana. It comes down to a person that is trained — I believe that we should give the doctors the ability [to prescribe marijuana]. I think that this is something that benefit the entire state,” noted Ojeda.
When asked if he could see himself eventually voting for full decriminalization of marijuana, Ojeda responded positively about the future of marijuana in the state saying, “If medical marijuana is legalized and it’s doing positive things, yes I would very much…be in favor of decriminalizing it. I would love to see it go from schedule one to schedule two. Right now marijuana is listed in the same schedule as heroin and it’s no where near that.”
The bill which would legalize medical marijuana, SB 386, is known as the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act and would create a cannabis commission which would, “…develop policies, procedures, guidelines and regulations to implement programs to make medical cannabis available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner.”
The commission would be made up of the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources and the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and 13 others to be appointed by the governor.
The bill encourages the commission to approve physician applications to treat patients in hospice care and medical conditions ranging from wasting syndromes, nausea, seizures to severe muscle spasms.
The bill adds, “The commission may approve applications that include any other condition that is severe and for which other medical treatments have been ineffective if the symptoms reasonably can be expected to be relieved by the medical use of cannabis.”
In recent comments, West Virginia governor Jim Justice explained he is against legalization of marijuana saying the state already has enough drugs.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 or by email at [email protected]