Pubdate: Wed, 20 Mar 2013
Source: Martinsburg Journal (WV)
Copyright: 2013 Martinsburg Journal
Author: Rachel Molenda


CHARLESTON - Legislation was proposed Tuesday that could add West
Virginia to the list of 18 other states and the District of Columbia
that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

The Compassionate Medical Marijuana Act of 2013 would impact patients
suffering from debilitating diseases such as cancer, glaucoma and
those that produce severe pain, according to the bill.

Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, has introduced this legislation
twice before. This year is the first he has had co-sponsors, which he
suggests is due to medicinal marijuana becoming a less controversial

Legislation was proposed Tuesday that could add West Virginia to the
list of 18 other states and the District of Columbia that have
legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

"I have proven that it isn't as controversial of an issue as everyone
has thought it has been in the past," Manypenny said. "I have worked
to educate them and let them know the reasons why I introduced this
and have made this a cause of mine."

Eastern Panhandle Delegate Larry D. Kump, R-Berkeley, is one of nine
lawmakers who have signed onto the bill. Kump said his reasons for
sponsoring the proposed legislation are both personal and a matter of

Diagnosed with terminal cancer three times, Kump said he has dealt
with the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting.
Doctors once suggested to him to use marijuana to relieve such issues,
but medicinal marijuana wasn't legal in any part of the country at the

"That convinced me early on about the medical benefits of marijuana,"
Kump said, though he added he has never smoked marijuana.

Kump said he supports the legislation because of his strong belief in
the Tenth Amendment.

"I believe that the states have the right to regulate marijuana, since
that right is not specifically given to the federal government in the
constitution," Kump said.

The proposed legislation would provide protection for those who use
medical marijuana and their caregivers, but it would also require that
both parties be registered. It would create what the bill calls
"compassion centers," which are dispensaries, Manypenny said.

Manypenny said he believes the legalization of medicinal marijuana
would decrease the amount of prescription drug abuse in the state.
Sales tax from marijuana would be put into a drug abuse prevention
fund, according to the legislation.

"We lose lives every day to opiate addiction and overdose, and most of
those are due to accidental overdose," Manypenny said. "People have a
lot of pain, and they're trying to control that. ... So they take more
than they're supposed to and the result is it shuts down their
autonomous nervous system. Marijuana cannot do that."

Manypenny said he has not yet gotten feedback from the pharmaceutical
industry, but several medical professionals have expressed support for
the proposed legislation. Law enforcement officers, while unable to
comment publicly, have said they will "uphold the law as it is
written," Manypenny said.

The proposed legislation has been sent to the House committee on
health and human resources. Committee chairman Delegate Don Perdue,
D-Wayne, said he had a few concerns regarding the bill, most notably
smoking - the method by which marijuana is primarily consumed.

Perdue said he could not speak to the future of the bill, though he
did recognize the growing trend of legalizing marijuana for medical

"It may well be that we'll try to position (the bill) as such so they
can at least have a hearing on it," Perdue said. "Beyond that, I can't
promise anything."
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