Pubdate: Sun, 06 Oct 2013
Source: Register-Herald, The (Beckley, WV)
Copyright: 2013 The Register-Herald
Author: Cody Neff


Even though Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, says he hopes to have 
medical marijuana legalized by 2015, some state officials say it 
could be longer, especially depending on what the public thinks.

"I would say the earliest that we're going to vote on something like 
that is 2015," Sen. Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, said. "I can't imagine 
that we'd vote on an issue like that during an election year. I get 
mixed opinions in our district. My job is to represent the people of 
Raleigh, Wyoming and part of McDowell.

"I think for the most part, most people don't really care one way or 
the other any more. There are some who strongly support it and some 
who are strongly against it. Even though there are a lot of people 
who use medical marijuana like they're supposed to and get benefits 
from it, there's still a stigma with drug use and marijuana usage.

"If there is going to be a wide-spread acceptance then there needs to 
be some education of the general public from those people supporting it."

Some local church organizations are also throwing their support 
behind medical marijuana.

"As a ministerial association that is concerned with the overall 
well-being of those we serve, we understand that there are strains of 
marijuana with lower levels of the hallucinogen THC," the Mullens 
Ministerial Association wrote in a letter to Hall. "We understand 
these strains are helping patients, especially cancer patients, to 
handle pain. Therefore, we resolve and strongly urge political 
leaders to support the use of medical marijuana."

While some, like Lisa from Oak Hill, say they don't know enough about 
the drug to have an opinion, many others say they strongly support 
legalizing marijuana for medical use.

People questioned about their opinions did not give their last names.

"I feel like people just need to overlook the idea of 'People just 
want to get high,' or whatever their issue is," Marissa from Beckley 
said. "There are too many people who can be helped by it. It helps 
with glaucoma, cancer and hundreds of different diseases, even things 
like depression and anxiety disorders. It's not even the 'high' part 
because a lot of the stuff doesn't even use the THC. Some of it does, 
but people aren't just rolling joints all day to get high. People 
might eat it, take it in pill form, or oil, or whatever they need.

"I definitely think it should be legalized, at least for medical use. 
I don't think there should be people walking around the mall smoking, 
but if some old lady who is suffering from cancer can get some relief 
from it, then there's nothing wrong with that."

Others say it's not a matter of benefits, but a matter of perspective.

"If you control it and regulate it then I don't care," Kathryn from 
Beckley said. "There's far worse things in the world going on today 
that we should be worrying about rather than worrying about someone 
with a terminal illness using something that drug companies can't 
provide. Who am I to tell them that they can't have access to 
something? That's just silly."

Not everyone thinks the benefits outweigh the possible risks though.

"We've gone this long without it legalized," James from Beckley said. 
"I know it's 'technically' not a drug, but we've gone this long 
without it. Everyone is just going to suddenly come up with a 
'medical' reason to get medical marijuana. It'll be 'Oh I can't sleep 
at night. Weed puts me to sleep.' It's just going to be another 
problem to deal with. It's already too easy to get drugs."

Some police officials also think legalizing medical marijuana will 
just open a can of worms of new problems to deal with.

"I think there is some validity to the research being done that in 
very specific and very limited circumstances, such as glaucoma 
patients and some cancer patients, (it) does to some degree provide 
some medical benefit," Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner said. "To 
write a law for that limited circumstance seems ludicrous.

"My problem with marijuana is that I've never run into anyone on 
cocaine or heroin who didn't start on marijuana. It's the starter 
drug for so many worse drugs. I don't think that it's a victimless 
thing. People accept it because they say it's not as bad. That 
doesn't make it OK. Because it's so limited and has such limited 
benefit, I can't imagine that the benefits would outweigh the cases of abuse."

Hall says he hopes state and public officials will start polling the 
public on the issue soon so representatives can have a better idea 
about how the people in their districts feel when it comes time to 
vote on the bill.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom