CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – One of the hot button issues being debated in the 2020 Legislative Session is marijuana, and we could soon see a bill decriminalizing its use being introduced as early as next week.
Delegate Sammi Brown, (D) Jefferson, said she hopes to introduce a bill she calls the “Normalizing Cannabis Act” within a week. The bill is a re-draft of House Bill 3108 which she introduced last year.
“What if we had something that put a big green light out there, no pun intended, that said come on home, and this might be it,” says Brown.
The bill will focus on criminal justice reforms and de-stigmatizing cannabis by expunging certain possession charges and work towards non-criminal adult use. Brown said she hopes decriminalization will entice people back to the mountain state. She also thinks by expunging some criminal records, more people will be able to find work. Those opposed say otherwise.
“If you’re prone to using drugs and other substances I think probably an employer would want to know that,” Del. Jim Butler, (R) Mason said.
Delegate Tom Fast, (R) Fayette, said, “to just simply say something is no longer going to be illegal I think is very imprudent, if we were going to take that route why wouldn’t we just decriminalize heroin and any other drug,”
Medical cannabis advocates, however, support the proposal.
“One of my major issues with the Medical Cannabis Act was it is very restrictive as far as the conditions we are going to allow doctors to recommend cannabis for…if we decriminalize that is going to open up access for people who would not otherwise have that access,” said Rusty Williams, a patient advocate for the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.
While some lawmakers and advocates are excited about the bill being introduced, they say they are very aware of work that still needs to be done to de-stigmatize marijuana. Last week, members of the Democratic Caucus requested the Department of Commerce fast track an economic impact of adult-use cannabis study.