West Virginia may be on the verge of joining the 18 states and District of Columbia who allow “prescription pot.”
On February 15, 2013, the beginning of the current legislative session, W.Va. Delegate Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) introduced a bill to allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. It has been referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee, and advocates are calling on the committee to hold a hearing on the bill. Similar bills have been denied hearings in the past two legislative sessions.
The Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis, or H.B. 2230, allows patients to privately possess up to six ounces of marijuana. Initially, five tightly regulated compassion centers across the state would provide patients with safe, reliable access to medical marijuana. Patients would also have the option of privately cultivating up to 12 plants in their homes.
The Logan Banner asked their readers to participate in a poll, citing the delegate’s bill and asking them to choose one of three responses: support, oppose or unsure.
Of the 245 participants, 65 percent supported the legislation, 30 percent opposed it and five percent were unsure.
A poll was conducted in West Virginia by Public Policy Polling January 7-9. Of the 1,232 voters in the poll, 53 percent supported medical marijuana and 40 percent were opposed.
Marijuana was deemed to have no medicinal value and placed in Schedule I of the controlled Substances Act in 1972.
Proponents of medical marijuana argue it can be a safe and effective treatment for certain types of pain associated with debilitating or terminal illnesses including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and epilepsy.
Although there is no scientific data that proves the effectiveness of marijuana, it has been supported in many studies and government reports, by prominent medical organizations and it has been used as medicine throughout world history. It has no major side-effects, no evidence of true addiction (only psychological reliance), no withdrawal symptoms, no evidence of it causing cancer and doctors are divided on whether it has effects one way or the other on immunity.
Opponents of medical marijuana argue that it lacks FDA-approval and various legal drugs make marijuana use unnecessary. They say marijuana is addictive, leads to harder drug use, damages the heart, lungs, immune system and has cancer-causing compounds. On top of all that, they say that medical marijuana is a front for drug legalization and recreational use.
Those arguments could support making alcohol and nicotine illegal. Both are known to be addictive and damage the heart, brain, lungs, cause cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
As for marijuana being more dangerous to use than legal drugs, the drugs commonly used for pain, oxycodone and hydrocodone, are addictive and cause a number of health issues.
In addition to the tragedies that can occur when prescription drugs are abused, the list of possible side effects include dizziness, itching, lightheadedness, disturbing nightmares, nausea, sweating, drowsiness, constipation, vomiting in some patients may be so severe that hospitalization is required (if the user has consumed alcohol before taking the medication), allergic reaction, blood disorders, changes in mood, racing heartbeat, mental fogginess, anxiety, lethargy, difficulty urinating, spasm of the ureter, irregular or depressed respiration, and rash.
The question of whether or not to allow medicinal marijuana is not an easy one. The pros and cons make it hard to know whether changing the law will help or hurt people who suffer intense pain as part of a serious or terminal illness. It would give them access to hope and the possibility of trying something that will alleviate their pain or at least make it bearable.