The centers would be taxed, generating state revenues earmarked for substance abuse treatment programs, Manypenny said.
"The taxes collected would be put in a special fund, which could be used for substance abuse treatment and drug prevention in our schools," he said. "We don't have enough funding to treat all the patients who now have substance abuse problems."
Under the bill, out-of-state patients also could frequent the distribution centers, provided they had a valid registration card from their home states.
The DHHR would solicit bids from companies that want to operate the distribution facilities.
In addition to cancer, patients with glaucoma, Crohn's disease, the HIV virus, hepatitis C, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis and advanced Alzheimer's disease would be allowed to possess marijuana for medical use.
House health committee Chairman Don Perdue acknowledged the medical marijuana bill would be a tough sell during an election year. But he wanted to put a proposal in writing for lawmakers to review.
"What we're seeking now is a collective opinion," Perdue said. "It's very difficult to draft legislation out of whole cloth, despite the fact we have other states that have done it. You have to be able to fit that down in West Virginia with our statutes and codes."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.