The Parthenon

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Editorial: Medical marijuana bill could help those in need

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The West Virginia Senate made the first steps to curbing addiction in the state by passing legislation Wednesday that would legalize medical marijuana.

The bill, Senate Bill 386, or the Creating WV Medical Cannabis Act, was introduced by Sen. Richard Ojeda, a retired Army major who gave an impassioned reason for passing the bill: helping those in need. In this case, Ojeda acted upon the patriotic sensibilities of his constituents, clutching 13 dog tags belonging to National Guardsmen who died in the line of duty. Ojeda’s speech served to provide senators with a reminder — post-traumatic stress disorder is very real and can be deadly. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs reported that in 2009, 38.3 per 100,000 of male veterans in the VA and 12.8 per 100,000 females committed suicide after some sort of trauma experienced during a stint in a foreign land. The West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance reported there were 173,389 veterans in the state. That’s 173,389 who are incredibly vulnerable at almost every turn, even though they may not display that, or feel the need to discuss it.

Nineteen percent of those vets receive disability compensation or pension payments — the thing to focus on is the disability compensation; these men and women are hurting every day of their lives, constantly looking forsomething to help them ease their pain, or day-to-day lives. That’s where one of West Virginia’s prime issues comes into play — the opioid crisis.

Charleston Gazette-Mail writer Eric Eyre has been collecting data regarding the prescription drug problem in the state. According to an interview with Eyre on NPR, over a six-year span, wholesalers sent 780 million painkillers to pharmacies throughout the Mountain State. These people abuse these painkillers and big pharmaceutical companies turn their heads. When the affected are cut off of their supply, the start to search for the originals — the drugs these synthetic painkillers are actually based on.

Medical marijuana can most certainly offer these people alternatives — instead of putting their friends and family through their illnesses, they can break an oppressive cycle.

Medical marijuana helps with a myriad of illness. Of course, every immune system is different, but it is known medical marijuana helps with the following — nausea relief, nerve pain relief, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and even some aspects of cancer treatment. Of course, smoking the medicinal plant is inherently bad — inhaling any kind of smoke for that matter can cause irreversible damage — but the great thing about marijuana is the variety in which it can be consumed. Patients can medicate with ground-up cannabis smoked through a pipe, or they can do something to better fit their lifestyles, like eat a medicated gummy worm, or rub a salve on an affected area, soothing whatever ailment they suffer from.

It is hard to tell exactly how medical marijuana would operate in the state, but we do know patients will most likely get their medicine from a set dispensary. Provisions have also been set in place, sending ten percent of the annual funds from medical marijuana to education programs “regarding safe cannabis use and supporting controlled substance and alcohol recovery programs.”

“This is an opportunity for us to pass historic legislation that will do more for the citizens of West Virginia than any bill that I have seen this session combined,” Ojeda said in an interview with Parthenon reporter Kylee Hurlely. “I hope that people realize over in the House that it’s time for us to open our eyes and do something for our people.”

The responsibility now rests on the shoulders of representatives in the House of Delegates. Passing medical marijuana could be a huge preventative step in terms of drug addiction running rampant in the state. The Parthenon urges readers to contact their representatives in regards to Senate Bill 386. Cabell County delegates are as follows:

Kelli Sobonya (R): 304-340-3175

Carol Miller (R): 304-340-3176

Sean Hornbuckle (D): 304-340-3395

Matthew Rohrbach (R): 304-340-3221

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