EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSWV Lawmakers To Review Medical Marijuana Legalization
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Sep. 23, 2013 10:20 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 24, 2013 10:04 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
West Virginia lawmakers are discussing medical marijuana this week, and it's not surprising the topic is getting a mixed response.
Recent votes in several states have continued to put a spotlight on legalizing marijuana in one way or another. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws okaying marijuana for medicinal purposes. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized it for recreational use.
Now, a West Virginia lawmaker who's been pushing for legalization here is at it again, with a hearing scheduled this week.
The marijuana debate is back, and nearly everyone seems to have an opinion about whether it should be legal.
"I feel that it makes sense because people are going to do it anyways so why not tax it because they go on and on about how we need money," said Cassie Wooldridge of Charleston.
"I'd probably vote no if it comes down to it, and that's because of the drug abuse that's already going on," said Richie Robb of Charleston.
Dozens of Eyewitness News Facebook fans have strong thoughts on the subject, too, including several with medical issues they claim are helped by marijuana, like a woman named Michelle who wrote she has lupus, and says traditional therapies haven't worked and sees marijuana as a more natural way to help her symptoms.
There's even another page called "Medical Cannabis for West Virginia," with nearly 700 likes.
But there are certainly serious concerns about marijuana.
"What they don't realize is it's 70 percent more potent than 20 or 30 years ago," said Tim White.
Tim White's a drug prevention coordinator for Prestera, and has a hard time seeing an up side to legalizing marijuana in any form.
"West Virginia leads the nation in overdose deaths attributed to the non-medical use of prescriptions, these are pills. So what we're seeing with prescription pills, are we going to start also seeing the same problems and issues with kids and with people that now have easier access to getting marijuana," said White.
And while some argue there could be a financial benefit if the state legalizes the drug and collects taxes on it., White's not so sure.
"It may benefit financially in one area but if it creates even more of a problem with more people out selling it, dealing with it, now we've got a legal problem with more of it being sold and dealt on our streets. So what we may save in one area, it's a whole other problem in our legal system," said White.
A lot of people on both sides of the debate encourage further studies be done to show long-term benefits of medical marijuana use.
Of course the ultimate decision on whether any form of marijuana becomes legal here in the Mountain State, rests with legislators. A joint committee will hold a two-hour session on the issue this Wednesday at the capital.
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