West Virginia is perfectly suited to produce some of the best cannabis in North America yet it’s one of the most economically depressed states in the union. All across the country, more and more states are ending prohibition and using the newly generated revenue to build schools and fund major infrastructure initiatives, but here in West Virginia, the folks in charge can’t even seem to figure out how to implement one of the most conservative medical cannabis programs in America.
Though the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law more than two years ago, patients are now being told that they’re going to have to wait two or three more years before products are available and as the patient advocate on the WV Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, I find that to be absolutely unacceptable. Patients have waited long enough for the bureaucrats to get things figured out and they shouldn’t be expected to wait any longer.
We need to decriminalize the personal cultivation, possession, use, and gifting of cannabis without remuneration and we need to do it now.
Decriminalizing cannabis and would allow patients to access a safe, natural alternative to a myriad of pharmaceuticals in three/four months as opposed to two/three years as well as provide access to patients suffering from ailments not currently defined as a ‘qualifying condition’ in the Medical Cannabis Act.
If elected to the House of Delegates, I will fight for comprehensive cannabis legislation that includes:
•The complete and immediate decriminalization of cannabis, including automatic expungement of records for all non-violent offenders dating back to 1937, the beginning of cannabis prohibition.
There are a lot of people in jail who absolutely should not be there and if I’m elected, I will fight to make sure that when cannabis reform happens in these hills, every person serving time in a West Virginia correctional facility for a non-violent cannabis offense is immediately released and provided every possible resource available to help them with housing and job training once they’re out.
We’re currently spending $17-20 million dollars on the enforcement and prosecution of non-violent cannabis offenses and another $20 million warehousing offenders in state correctional institutions every single year. If we decriminalize and dump the jails of non-violent offenders, we’ll immediately free-up $40 million dollars in revenue that could be redirected to addiction and recovery initiatives without taxing a single citizen.
•The creation of a legal cannabis industry heavily focused on small business as well as criminal justice reform and social equity.
One of my major complaints with the WV Medical Cannabis Act is the fact that 10 companies will control the entire industry from seed-to-sale. The legislature had an opportunity to pass legislation that would’ve given small WV farmers an opportunity to participate in the industry but instead, they laid the groundwork for another big-money corporate monopoly. When, not if, cannabis prohibition falls, we have got to do everything we possibly can to make sure we create an industry that works for small farmers, small business owners, and WV citizens who’ve been negatively affected by prohibition.
We’ve got a lot of wrongs to make right and I am 100% committed to doing everything I possibly can to see to it that we create a cannabis industry that provides all West Virginians the opportunity to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.