West Virginia governor signs medical marijuana bill

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Gov. Jim Justice has signed a bill that makes West Virginia the 29th state to allow the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.

Governor Jim Justice signed the Medical Cannabis Act (Senate Bill 386) on April 19, 2017.

Justice signed the bill Wednesday at the state Capitol in Charleston.

The Governor was joined for the bill signing by two of the initiative's primary supporters, Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), as well as Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) and Dr. Rahul Gupta the State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health.

The law lets doctors prescribe cannabis for patients who are terminally ill or who have seizures, cancer, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, AIDS and other specified conditions. It will license plant growers, processors and dispensaries for cannabis in pills, oils, topical gels, liquids and a form that can be vaporized.

The state Bureau of Public Health will oversee implementation of the law. Patient identification cards could be issued starting in July 2019.

The law doesn't authorize the sale of cannabis for smoking and patients can't grow their own plants.

“West Virginians are compassionate people and this law will help our neighbors who are struggling with illness,” said Governor Jim Justice. “This is a bipartisan effort and I want to thank Senator Ojeda, Senator Woelfel, Delegate Pushkin, and Delegate Folk for leading the charge to get this done. The people were heard loud and clear on this bill.”

Governor Justice added, “How could you turn your back on a loved one who is suffering? This is a vehicle for our doctors to help the people.”