West Virginia Legalizes Medical Marijuana

By Michael Maharrey

Yesterday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill that creates a limited medical marijuana program. The new law takes a step toward nullifying federal marijuana prohibition in practice within the state.

Sen. Richard Ojeda (D – Logan) sponsored Senate Bill 386 (SB386), along with 11 bipartisan co-sponsors. The new law creates a structure setting up a limited medical marijuana program in the Mountain State.

Patients with certain medical conditions will be able to access medical marijuana in the form of pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid, and non-whole plant forms for administration through vaporization. It bans smoking marijuana and prohibits patients from growing their own. It also imposes hefty fees on growers, processors and dispensaries.

The law is similar to the limited programs in place in Minnesota and New York, and currently being implemented in Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. As passed, the new law creates a restricted program.

The Marijuana Policy Project has produced a detailed breakdown of the bill’s provisions.

The Senate initially passed SB386 by a 28-6 vote on March 29. After significantly amending the bill, the House approved the measure 76-24 on April 4. The Senate concurred with the amendments a few days later by a 28-6 vote. The new law will go into effect in stages, with bulk of the provisions effective immediately. Medical marijuana cards will become available in the summer of 2019.

Ojeda told the West Virginia Gazette the bill was “way better than nothing.”

“It’s not devastating — not bad at all,” he said. “It’s still a good bill.”

Activists in the state reportedly already have plans to build on the foundation created by SB386. Ojeda said he hopes to amend the law next year to allow low income patients to grow their own marijuana.

Even though the new West Virginia medical marijuana program has limitations and takes just a first step, even the tiniest movement forward legalizing marijuana defies federal law.


The West Virginia medical marijuana program partially removes one layer of law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the state, but federal prohibition remains in place.

Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

While West Virginia’s medical marijuana program does not alter federal law, it takes a step toward nullifying in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing the state laws, West Virginia would remove some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.


West Virginia joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis, with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts joining them after ballot initiatives passed in those state last November.

With 30 states now allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.


The provisions of the new law will go into effect in the following phases:

(a) Unless excepted in subsection (b) or (c), the provisions of this act shall be effective upon passage.

(b) The provisions defining criminal offenses criminal and penalties will become effective July 4, 2017.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, no identification cards may be issued to patients until July 1, 2019.  The Bureau may take sufficient steps through rule to implement the preliminary provisions in preparation for implementation of the provisions of this act.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky.See his blog archive here and his article archive here.He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE

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9 Comments on "West Virginia Legalizes Medical Marijuana"

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  2. hvaiallverden | April 20, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Reply

    An wise move, and make it clear to the parents with children that have severe problems, that here is alternatives and an wide range of products, with or without THC, in all forms, incl oil, to pills.

    The worst thing, isnt cannabis/hashish, but the massive wall of ignorance, willfully or not, but its massive.
    The second is the reason for been illegal in the first place, and by whom, is founding the so called “anti-drug” campaigns and so on, enlightening, do it, and the sheer level of hypocrisy will be in the open.
    Its in the end, an marked strategy, and some will lose on an Legalization, and follow the money.

    All in all, an adult move and an yard stick on morale and common sense is passed, made by people that will be remembered, but also take an look on what the state it self can do, to sell it as well, make some cash on it while you can, no shame in that.
    I in the summer usually wears linen cloths, light and good anuf, and hemp is the same, and its far more ecologically sound and hemp can even be used as paper and so on.

    And grow quality, makes you smoke/use less.

    To me is both, plessure and pain.
    But the price level makes it tough, and I have to cut back and it hurts, litrerary.
    May the haze continue to enlighten your soul and body, an refeer an day, keeps the doctores a bay.


  3. Oh thank you mommie and daddy. Can we now date who we want, let everyone go topless if they want, have a lemonaid stand without permission!!?

    And the slaves celebrate their “freedom.” ?

    The death of a thousand cuts continues.

  4. Grace by Faith on yt | April 20, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Reply

    It’s no coincidence it’s 4/20 and they roll out this sham at the same time as they roll out their new federal drug dog, er, czar, who says he is rabidly going to go after weed. They will cause chaos over this issue first, thanks, West Virginia, then legalize it nationally, because they know if they just toss out the laws altogether (nullify via decriminalization), which is a whole different dog than legalization, they’ll lose control over profits. They can also mess with product under legalization, which is what they’re already doing.

    Don’t fall for legalization, it’s a set-up!! Stuff that is legal is NOT made into laws, that’s why there are no laws regulating the use of Cheetos (for my munched out friends lol). Legalization means they’re converting an inherent right into a privilege meaning we must first ask permission to use it via regulation, registration, or licensing or some other stipulation they pull from their collective bums. Remember, slaves have no rights, only privileges for which they must first voluntarily request, then pay, with most likely more severe penalties for non-compliance than when it was simply “illegal”.

    “No State shall convert a liberty into a privilege, license it, and charge a fee therefore.” Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 US 105.

    “If the State converts a right (liberty) into a privilege, the citizen can ignore the license and fee and engage in the right (liberty) with impunity.” Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham Alabama, 373 US 262.

    “Those things which are considered as inalienable rights which all citizens possess cannot be licensed since those acts are not held to be a privilege.” City of Chicago v. Collins, 51 NE 907, 910.

    • nochipforme | May 4, 2017 at 3:02 am | Reply

      It must be vexing to have studied so much legislation. It’s like making your way through a maze, only to find yourself on the outside, while there is an entire section of the maze that is by invitation only. And you’re not invited.

  5. Betsy Singh-Anand | April 20, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Reply

    That’s just as crappy as Ohio’s medical law 🙁

  6. Psychic Warrior | April 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Reply

    This site censored both of my comments verifying that the moderators are government trolls working for the Reptilian Overlords.

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