Marijuana legalization continues to be a hot-button topic this year. In 2016 alone, Four states approved the use of recreational marijuana while four states approved medical marijuana. Along with that, twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia now have marijuana laws and eight states plus District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use by adults.
This provided the stage for police authorities and cannabis advocates to hold a debate on marijuana legalization and talk about the steps to be taken in drafting a medical marijuana law in West Virginia. National coordinator of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s National Marijuana Initiative John Shemelya and Charleston Police Department investigative services bureau chief Lt. Eric Johnson expressed concern on how marijuana legalization could have an effect on children. Surveys revealed that youth who reside in medical or recreational marijuana-legalized states were likely to engage in marijuana use in the past month, as reported in a news release.
A 2014 study was also mentioned wherein medical cannabis laws were linked to a lowered rate of overdose mortality. It was reported that West Virginia experienced a rise in overdose rates in 2015.
Mike Pushkin, sponsor of the cannabis decriminalization bill, has received phone calls from individuals who have benefited from using medical marijuana after the legislation. According to Pushkin, the marijuana industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that the state sees no revenue from.