Future of medical marijuana may depend on public input

public people hbtv hemp beach tvEven though Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, says he hopes to have medical marijuana legalized by 2015, some state officials say it could be longer, especially depending on what the public thinks. “I would say the earliest that we’re going to vote on something like that is 2015,” Sen. Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, said. “I can’t imagine that we’d vote on an issue like that during an election year. I get mixed opinions in our district. My job is to represent the people of Raleigh, Wyoming and part of McDowell.

“I think for the most part, most people don’t really care one way or the other any more. There are some who strongly support it and some who are strongly against it. Even though there are a lot of people who use medical marijuana like they’re supposed to and get benefits from it, there’s still a stigma with drug use and marijuana usage.

“If there is going to be a wide-spread acceptance then there needs to be some education of the general public from those people supporting it.”

Some local church organizations are also throwing their support behind medical marijuana.

“As a ministerial association that is concerned with the overall well-being of those we serve, we understand that there are strains of marijuana with lower levels of the hallucinogen THC,” the Mullens Ministerial Association wrote in a letter to Hall. “We understand these strains are helping patients, especially cancer patients, to handle pain. Therefore, we resolve and strongly urge political leaders to support the use of medical marijuana.”

While some, like Lisa from Oak Hill, say they don’t know enough about the drug to have an opinion, many others say they strongly support legalizing marijuana for medical use.

People questioned about their opinions did not give their last names.

“I feel like people just need to overlook the idea of ‘People just want to get high,’ or whatever their issue is,” Marissa from Beckley said. “There are too many people who can be helped by it. It helps with glaucoma, cancer and hundreds of different diseases, even things like depression and anxiety disorders. It’s not even the ‘high’ part because a lot of the stuff doesn’t even use the THC. Some of it does, but people aren’t just rolling joints all day to get high. People might eat it, take it in pill form, or oil, or whatever they need.

“I definitely think it should be legalized, at least for medical use. I don’t think there should be people walking around the mall smoking, but if some old lady who is suffering from cancer can get some relief from it, then there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Others say it’s not a matter of benefits, but a matter of perspective.

“If you control it and regulate it then I don’t care,” Kathryn from Beckley said. “There’s far worse things in the world going on today that we should be worrying about rather than worrying about someone with a terminal illness using something that drug companies can’t provide. Who am I to tell them that they can’t have access to something? That’s just silly.”

Not everyone thinks the benefits outweigh the possible risks though.

“We’ve gone this long without it legalized,” James from Beckley said. “I know it’s ‘technically’ not a drug, but we’ve gone this long without it. Everyone is just going to suddenly come up with a ‘medical’ reason to get medical marijuana. It’ll be ‘Oh I can’t sleep at night. Weed puts me to sleep.’ It’s just going to be another problem to deal with. It’s already too easy to get drugs.”

Some police officials also think legalizing medical marijuana will just open a can of worms of new problems to deal with.

“I think there is some validity to the research being done that in very specific and very limited circumstances, such as glaucoma patients and some cancer patients, (it) does to some degree provide some medical benefit,” Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner said. “To write a law for that limited circumstance seems ludicrous.

“My problem with marijuana is that I’ve never run into anyone on cocaine or heroin who didn’t start on marijuana. It’s the starter drug for so many worse drugs. I don’t think that it’s a victimless thing. People accept it because they say it’s not as bad. That doesn’t make it OK. Because it’s so limited and has such limited benefit, I can’t imagine that the benefits would outweigh the cases of abuse.”

Hall says he hopes state and public officials will start polling the public on the issue soon so representatives can have a better idea about how the people in their districts feel when it comes time to vote on the bill.

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