West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a medical marijuana bill into law this week, making his state the 29th U.S. state to legalize cannabis as a medical treatment. Patients will be able to get their patient ID cards starting July 1st, 2019, giving the state's new medical cannabis commission ample time to sort out the regulatory details.
The law will allow patients suffering from 16 conditions, including cancer, HIV, and Parkinson's disease, to apply for medical marijuana with their doctor's approval. However, the law does not allow patients to smoke or grow their own weed, and cannabis treatments can only be purchased at a licensed dispensary. Patients will be able to vaporize or nebulize medical marijuana, or purchase it in the form of pills, topicals, tinctures, liquids, or dermal patches.
“Our doctors are telling us, this is a pathway to help those people [who are suffering],” Justice said. “How could you turn your back on that? How could you turn your back on a loved one who is really suffering? To have a vehicle to be able to help, and to turn our back on it and say, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ To me, that’s not listening to the wise, and it’s not being charitable and caring, like we ought to be.”
Jesse Johnson, executive director of NORML’s West Virginia chapter, said that the passage of the law is “a giant step forward for West Virginia, for patient access, for compassion and for people who are suffering, particularly our veterans, and that’s one of the things that’s been a real driver through the past four years.”
“There’s some cleaning up to do, but it’s a historic first step for West Virginia,” Johnson said.