CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, introduced legislation Friday to allow patients suffering from serious medical conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
Manypenny, sole sponsor of similar legislation last year, said Thursday he would have five new supporters this year.
The bill has already been referred to the House Health and Human Resources committee. Supporters want a legislative hearing on the bill. In the past two years, other legislators have denied those hearings.
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, based in Denver, Colo., said Friday, "There is no reason this should not be discussed. It is an issue taken up in dozens of states. It is time for it to be discussed in West Virginia.
"This is part of a nationwide increase in momentum. We've seen medical marijuana bills introduced throughout the country, including states many people might think would not be supportive," Tvert said during a telephone interview.
A majority of West Virginia voters believe the state should enact a law allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana, according to a January 2013 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.
The survey found West Virginia voters backed medical marijuana legislation by a 13-point margin, with 53 percent in favor of it and 40 percent opposed. The other 7 percent had no opinion.
(Detailed poll results are available at www.mpp.org/WVpoll.)
Tvert said, "What we are seeing is that a majority of Americans, whether they live in West Virginia or California, support allowing the use of marijuana by seriously ill patients.
"We are seeing a lot of discussions going on right now, even in states like Alabama and North Carolina. The real need in West Virginia is for the Legislature to hold a hearing on this bill and stop keeping seriously ill West Virginians out in the cold.