CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A new poll released on Wednesday says that a majority of West Virginia voters support legalizing medical marijuana.
Last week, Public Policy Polling completed a survey that found the state's voters favored reform legislation by a 13 percent margin: 53 percent to 40 percent.
Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said on Wednesday afternoon, "From what you saw in the poll, we are ready to have this issue talked about and taken seriously."
The Marijuana Policy Project released the survey results on its website.
Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, plans to introduce a bill in the Legislature that would allow patients who are seriously ill to use marijuana if their physicians recommend it. If passed, those medical patients would not be subject to arrest.
The PPP survey, which included 1,232 voters, also found more and more West Virginians believe marijuana is far safer than prescription painkillers, which have become an epidemic in the state.
The poll reported that 63 percent of state voters believe marijuana is a safer treatment for debilitating pain than OxyContin. A plurality of the voters said they felt marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.
Dr. Paul Clancy, an emergency physician based in Spencer, said, "Many West Virginians could potentially benefit from the use of medical marijuana where other drugs have failed.
"No patient battling a serious medical condition should have to risk possible arrest and imprisonment for using a medicine most West Virginians recognize as being safer than OxyContin," Clancy said.