Just a short time after the state of Virginia pushed through measures to considerably expand their own medical marijuana program, the state of West Virginia failed to do the same thing. The legislative session passed this weekend without a vote occurring on the new House Bill 4345, and House Speaker Tim Armstead claims that it was due to the many legislators trying to force recreational marijuana into the bill.
The expansion of the bill would have done a lot for West Virginia’s medical marijuana program. Passage would have increased the amount of growers, dispensaries and processors, as well as allowing for vertical integration.
“There are so many people whose ultimate goal is to legalize marijuana recreationally in all areas to try to get it into the mix and try to put that into the bill that we’re working on. Frankly, that’s what killed this bill,” Armstead (R-Kanawha) said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
The House of Delegates passed HB 4345, which included changes to the current medical marijuana law. The original goal of the bill was to help put a framework in place for the law. The Senate changed the bill to include a number of provisions that Armstead said he was not comfortable with.
“There’s always been this concern because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level,” he said.
Because the bill died in the House, the future of the program is in question. Armstead said he believes the state is still on track to begin issuing patients and caregivers identification cards on July 1, 2019.
“I think we’re still on course. There’s still going to need to be changes and whether those changes are made in the next regular session, or before that, or things are going to have to be evaluated, I think that there are specific changes,” he said.
Legislators being anxious to add recreational marijuana to West Virginia law is a good sign for cannabis advocates in the state, however not showing some tact so that the medical marijuana program could be expanded shows a lack of experience on their part. Are you as optimistic as House Speaker Tim Armstead that West Virginia can stay on track?