How the WV Legislators Killed Medical Marijuana

Discussion in 'State & Local Issues' started by KatherineA, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. KatherineA

    KatherineA Resident Mountain Yogi & Willis Impersonator Administrator Writer

    Jan 3, 2005
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    Summary from WV House Democrats

    AND FINALLY, MEDICAL MARIJUANA: We saved the best for last. For those who followed the session last night, you already know the lies and deceit that were on display to prevent legislators from creating a productive and successful medical marijuana law in West Virginia. In a fitting end to his tenure, Speaker Tim Armstead used his last evening as Speaker of the House to block bi-partisan legislation to fix the medical marijuana bill that was passed last year. Without the proposed fixes to the medical marijuana law that passed last year, most people fear that the medical marijuana law will be a failure in WV.

    First, it's necessary to provide the backstory for the medical marijuana law and how it passed last year. The bill was championed by Senator Richard Ojeda in the Senate and Delegates Shawn Fluharty and Mike Pushking in the House of Delegates, and when the 2017 legislative session started the bill looked dead on arrival. However, After raising public awareness and forming a bi-partisan coalition to pass the bill, Senator Ojeda's version of the bill passed the Senate in a bi-partisan manner and it was sent to the House. After Republican Leadership in the House saw that members were willing to override leadership to bring the bill directly to the floor for a vote, they acted swiftly to reign in their members and water down bill before it passed. The changes that eventually became law included that marijuana could NOT be sold in leaf form that could be smoked or ingested, and users who were prescribed the treatment would have to receive it in pill, oil, gel, ointment, or liquid form. Although these changes sought to empower pharmaceutical companies and hurt patients, are members compromised to get the ball rolling and ensure the law would pass.

    Which brings us to this legislative session. A bi-partisan group of legislators looked to fix the bill and the changes appeared they would pass both chambers of the legislature in a bi-partisan manner. After being volleyed between the House and Senate, the bill was amended and passed by the Senate and sent back to the House for approval on the last day of the legislation session. THIS IS WHERE THE BILL IMPLODED.

    At 6:30, the Senate sent the bill back to the House and waited for them to pass it. Upon further inspection, it became apparent that significant technical errors and changes were included in the bill in what we believe was an attempt to kill the bill on a technicality. These errors were fixed and a corrected version of the bill was presented to the Speaker and the House Clerk in a timely manner. The Speaker informed Democratic Delegates that the new version of the bill was received and a vote would take place after the next recess. However, this never happened.

    At this time, Delegate Andrew Byrd (D-Kanawha) moved for the House to take the bill up on immediate consideration, a parliamentary maneuver that would have forced a vote. Then, the Speaker of the House and the House Clerk claimed the House of Delegates never received the bill and therefore it couldn't be considered on the House floor. After multiple Delegates took to the floor to debate the violation of House rules and procedures, Speaker Armstead claimed the motion was out of order, essentially killing the bill on the spot. LET US BE CLEAR: without the fixes, the medical marijuana bill is nearly worthless and will not be a benefit to patients in West Virginia.

    And this concluded one of the craziest and corrupt legislative sessions in West Virginia history. As Republican leadership had done repeatedly for 60 days, they violated rules and broke laws that allowed a small minority of legislators to impose their will on the people of West Virginia. We have included a story from the Charleston Gazette-Mail that details the bill and the process under which it died.

    And an article from the WV Gazette on what happened.
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