Currently there is a piece of legislation headed to the Governor of West Virginia’s desk that has sold out the public in desperate need of cannabis. The Governor is expected to sign WV SB 386 as well.
Introduced Version of SB 386
Richard Ojeda and eleven co-sponsors introduced the original version of SB 386. It was more restrictive than I would like to see personally, but was much better than the current version of the bill. Home growing was left out of the original bill, a great disservice was done to the citizens of West Virginia by omitting this provision. Allowing home grows is the only way to ensure that most will be able to afford their medical cannabis.
It states in several places that growers are able to transfer cannabis to processors, dispensaries, qualified patients, caregivers, and labs. This is great, it doesn’t block any forms of ingestion that may work best for a particular patient. Like I said earlier, not the greatest access to cannabis. All forms of ingestion were on the table though. Dried flower and smoking weren’t illegal at this point.
Senator Stollings Amendment
Senator Stollings introduced an amendment that was passed, but the Shott Zatezalo amendment nullified it. Part of the Stollings amendment contained the language“providing an exception for a qualifying patient to grow a specified amount without a license”, this was great. Also, “providing that certain persons licensed, registered and authorized under the act may not be subject to arrest, prosecution or any civil or administrative penalty, including a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a professional licensing board, or be denied any right or privilege, for the medical use of cannabis.” This protection is much better than the one in the Shott Zatezalo amendment.
SB 386 Shott/Zatezalo ammendment
Here’s the amendment that gutted SB 386 for the patients of West Virginia. With this amendment smoking cannabis is actually illegal, possession or use of dry flower is illegal for a qualified patient or caregiver, and one of the worst cannabis DUI laws instituted.
No smoking cannabis? Are Mr. Shott and Zatezalo doctors? No, they don’t have the right to introduce language that restricts how one of their own constituents can use cannabis to best suit their condition at the given moment. There is a provision in the amendment that states vaporization of flower could be approved by the commission at a later date, but not smoking.
No dried flower? Once again, Mr. Shott and Zatezalo are not doctors. No right at all to practice medicine on the citizens of West Virginia. While they may not be prescribing anything, these amendments effectively tie the hands of doctors who will recommend cannabis for patients. As well as dispensary owners in what they can offer to help patients.
Now to the DUI and work restrictions. These are absolutely terrible. There is no provision that states cannabis in the blood doesn’t mean you’re impaired. There is absolutely no protection for people at their job, anything that requires physical activity can be off the table at no consequence to the employer. You can be fired, not hired, or have your hours cut because you use medical cannabis, no recourse at all against your employer. The DUI restriction is awful as well, .3ng/ml. Wow, no one who uses cannabis as medicine will be able to fall under that mark. I believe that number is used due to that being the lowest level of cannabis metabolites the instrument used can detect. This will also line the pockets of the WV with DUI arrests at the expense of sick people. This is unacceptable. Look at the section below about ng/ml testing cutoffs for cannabis.
Cutoff and Detection Post Dose
The initial screening cutoff level is 50 ng/ml. The GC/MS cutoff level is 15 ng/ml. The elimination half-life of marijuana ranges from 14-38 hours. At the initial cutoff of 50 ng/ml, the daily user will remain positive for perhaps 7 to 30 days after cessation. At the confirmation level of 15 ng/ml, the frequent user will be positive for perhaps as long as 15 weeks. Marijuana metabolites’ storage and slow release from lipid tissues is the reason for this long detection period.
There are several other issues with the amendment. The number was dropped from 15 growers to be licensed by the start date of the bill to 10. Although those 10 could now have 2 grow facilities for a total of 20 grow sites in the state. Only 30 dispensaries will be licensed, at most 5 per region of the state. Growers and Processors are ineligible to have a dispensary. County governments have the rights to block cannabis business from opening in that particular county. Growing must be done indoors and under heavy security. There is language that excludes insurance companies from covering cannabis medicines. Pills, oil, topicals, vaporization, nebulization, tinctures, liquids, and dermal patches are the only acceptable forms of administration of cannabis to patients. Edibles only seem legal if you make them at home yourself, that portion is very confusing. Seed to sale tracking will be implemented and a dispensary has to be 1000ft. from a daycare or school of any kind.
John Shott is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee in the WV House. Over the past five elections he’s run, his campaign contributions are dominated by energy, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies.
Mark Zatezalo was the main sponsor of the controversial piece of West Virginia legislation that could allow more pollution in WV water sources. The bill allowed adopted a higher flow rate of streams to use in the pollution calculations. This was concerning to people due to the fact that it would allow more pollutants in the water because they would disperse faster on paper by the new numbers used in calculating pollution amounts.
West Virginians were sold out with the old bait and switch by their elected officials. With the evidence provided it’s hard for me to believe that Shott and Zatezalo had their constituents in mind at all. These two authored an amendment that benefited their campaign donors instead of the people of West Virginia. The West Virginia energy providers will get a windfall from selling electricity and gas to these massive indoor grows, all the while driving the price of cannabis up. They served their constituents up to big pharma on a silver platter as well. The restrictions imposed in the amendment helps the state more than the citizens in need. Other states that have restricted the number of growers and dispensaries don’t have affordable access to quality cannabis. It looks like WV residents will probably be paying the equivalent of $500 an ounce for products that sure aren’t dried flower to smoke. The DUI restrictions help the state rake in a staggering amount of cash while causing further issues for sick people. At 3ng/ml you will never be able to operate a vehicle without being considered impaired if you use cannabis daily. This amendment was approved by the rest of the elected officials of West Virginia. As far as I’m concerned they should all be held accountable for not respecting the wishes of their constituents and bending to the will of campaign donations and the state treasury.
It’s instances like this we can learn a great deal from here in NC. We must let our elected know exactly what portions of the three bills introduced that we want left in tact. Blind support for a bill means you’ve consented to a contract you know nothing of. Would you blindly buy a car or house without looking at the contract you were about to consent to? No, you want a lawyer to read the contract, find any hidden shenanigans and make sure the product is worthy as well. We have a responsibility to ourselves to be vigilant and never let this happen to us here in NC. Our elected work for us and need to be reminded of that constantly. Legislation is a contract between the governors and the governed. The Declaration of Independence states that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The citizens of West Virginia didn’t consent to the amendment of the cannabis law passing. They should hold their elected responsible for governing without consent.
Our own legislators have been negligent in respecting the will of their constituents for years now. I believe it’s time we do the same here and hold them accountable for their actions. It’s time they stop trying to figure out how to profit off both sides of the drug war and free the cannabis plant for us. All the lives lost and ruined in the war on drugs are on our elected, this lack of action is only continuing the damage being done. They don’t deserve the jobs of representing their constituents if they won’t respect their wishes and keep choosing campaign funds and reelection over the health and wishes of the citizens of NC.