West Virginia might soon become the 29th state in the US to decriminalize marijuana for medical use. The state legislature approved the bill that seeks to legalize the drug and has already passed the ball to Gov. Jim Justice.
Senate Bill 386 lies at its final stage as it sits at the desk of the West Virginia governor, who happens to be a supporter of the medical marijuana bill, according to Independent. Both chambers of the state government, however, agreed on stricter measures by making amendments to the bill just before stamping their approval. Unlike other states that decriminalized it, the use of marijuana in its natural, flower form will remain illegal.
The medical marijuana bill won the lawmakers' backing despite the critical stance of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said of cannabis as "only slightly less awful" than heroin. Several types of research suggest that West Virginia has a lot to gain from legalizing marijuana. Not only will it bring remedies for patients of PTSD, brain injury and chronic pain, but it will also drive down drug-related problems such as the cases Sessions wants to be wiped out.
Colleen Barry, Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research's co-director, revealed that deaths caused by heroin overdose went down to 25 percent in states where marijuana was made legal. As it happens, data released by the Centres for Disease Control showed that West Virginia has an alarming rate of heroin overdose deaths. The numbers increased almost 17 percent between 2014 and 2015.
While eight states in the US legalized marijuana last year, its neighbor to the north plans to become the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of the drug on a nationwide scale. The liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau already set the legislation date around April 10. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer told Time the marijuana legalization in Canada "might help change the perceptions of some skeptics" or even "shift the center of gravity."