By Anthony Martinelli

A bill to legalize medical marijuana was given initial approval today by the West Virginia House of Delegates.

In a rare procedural move, the House of Delegates voted 54 to 40 today to bypass the committee process and bring Senate Bill 386 directly to the floor of the House. The vote comes just a day after the measure was passed by the state’s full Senate with a 28 to 6 vote.

A second reading of the bill is planned for tomorrow. If approved through its second reading, the measure will need to be passed through one more vote in the House before being sent to Governor Jim Justice for consideration; Governor Justice says he supports medical cannabis, and is likely to sign it into law if it reaches his desk.

If it is passed into law, as is becoming more and more likely, Senate Bill 386 would allow those with a qualifying condition to possess and use cannabis for medical purposes, if they first receive a recommendation from a physician and register with the state The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Commission would be created to oversee a system of licensed cannabis dispensaries, which would be authorized to sell cannabis and cannabis products (oils, edibles, etc.) to patients.

Below are the medical conditions covered by Senate Bill 386:

(A) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that results in a patient being admitted into hospice or receiving palliative care; or

(B) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces:

(i) Cachexia, anorexia, or wasting syndrome;

(ii) Severe or chronic pain that does not find effective relief through standard pain medication;

(iii) Severe nausea;

(iv) Seizures;

(v) Severe or persistent muscle spasms; or

(vi) Refractory generalized anxiety disorder.

(2) The commission may not limit treatment of a particular medical condition to one class of physicians.

(e) The commission may approve applications that include any other condition that is severe and for which other medical treatments have been ineffective if the symptoms reasonably can be expected to be relieved by the medical use of cannabis.

The text of Senate Bill 386 can be found by clicking here.

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