By Andrea Lannom
For the Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CHARLESTON — After several hours of debate over two amendments, the West Virginia House approved a more restrictive change to a bill that would legalize medical marijuana and advanced the bill to a third reading today.
Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, described his amendment as “putting a toe in the water” instead of “plunging in head first,” characterizing the original Senate bill as the “wild, wild west.” He said this amendment was modeled after the Pennsylvania statute.
Under Shott’s amendment, which won approval, the Bureau for Public Health would operate the program. It would have an advisory board that would give guidance on how the program is administered. The bureau would certify a patient to be treated for one of the illnesses under the legislation along with the dosage of medication and the delivery for medication.
Those who supported Shott’s amendment said it is a more cautious approach that would not open access to marijuana to teens and would regulate it in such a way that there would be more quality control with less room for contaminated products.
Opponents to Shott’s amendment said it was cost prohibitive to people who could benefit from medical marijuana, is too restrictive on the number of dispensaries and growers, and would ultimately end up killing the bill because of views that the Senate would not support a drastic change from the original legislation.
An amendment by Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, would have kept the commission created under the original Senate bill to establish standards, come up with the number of licenses for growers, processors and dispensaries. The commission also would allow independent labs for testing as well as establish a state police lab. The commission also would set the amount of the fees