Photo provided by West Virginia Legislative Photography. Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, seated, discusses a bill in the West Virginia Legislature with Delegate Michael Folk, R-Berkeley.
CHARLESTON — A majority of Northern Panhandle lawmakers voting Thursday supported legalizing medical marijuana, but the amendment sponsored by Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, failed by a vote of 64-35.
“I think it’s dead in this session,” Fluharty said after the Thursday vote in the House of Delegates.
“It was great to have the debate — that was step one,” he said, referring to the nearly two-hour discussion regarding his floor amendment to House Bill 2526.
The amendment called for re-classifying marijuana in state guidelines as a Schedule IV drug: a non-narcotic drug with low potential for abuse. “It allows for the prescription of medical cannabis,” he said.
Currently, both state and federal law classify marijuana Schedule I drug, a category that also includes drugs such as heroin.
“It’s a shame that legislators are putting politics above the health of our residents,” Fluharty said after vote against the amendment, co-sponsored by Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton.
“This amendment would have allowed doctors to be doctors, and prescribe medicinal cannabis if they thought it was proper for their patients,” Fluharty said.
Along with Fluharty, Northern Panhandle delegates supporting the legalization of medical marijuana included: Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock; Phil Diserio, D-Brooke; Erikka Storch, R-Ohio; Mike Ferro, D-Marshall; and Joe Canestraro, D-Marshall.
Among those opposing the measure were delegates Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock; Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel; and William R. Romine, R-Tyler.
Nonetheless, the amendment was historic in that it brought the medical marijuana debate to the House of Delegates floor.
“I would urge the members to understand that this is an historic day, that we would discuss the legalization of marijuana on this floor,” Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, said during the debate,