Politics 

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With Bill Passage, West Virginia Set to Become 29th MMJ State

(David Smith/AP)

*Update April 19, 3:45 EDT: Gov. Jim Justice signs SB386 into law*

There are now 29 states where medicinal marijuana can be prescribed and purchased, as West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed into law SB386, which legalizes the production, sale, and use of medical cannabis.

Gov. Justice had publicly expressed support for legal access to medicinal marijuana, and was expected to sign the bill into law.

SB 386 was introduced by Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan), and received initial approval from the state Senate last week by a vote of 28-6. The House substantially amended the bill before approving it on Tuesday (76-24).

A new version of the bill was then passed by the Senate on Wednesday afternoon (28-6). The House signed off on the final version on Friday, 74-24.

Though it’s a step in the right direction, the West Virginia law does leave a few things to be desired. The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act charges the state Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries.

Patients that have specifically listed qualifying conditions will be allowed to use cannabis extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not cannabis in flower or leaf form. So no, you will not be able to smoke medical cannabis in the Mountaineer state.

“Some of the House amendments to the bill are concerning, but it still has the potential to provide relief to thousands of seriously ill West Virginians,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Simon is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “We commend the Legislature for passing this compassionate and much-needed legislation, and we encourage Gov. Justice to sign it into law.”

Simon noted that West Virginia is the third state in a row to pass a medicinal cannabis bill through a Republican-controlled state legislature.