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  • December 14 2012

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    Marijuana Reform Comes to the Mountain State

    I’ve been organizing and advocating for marijuana policy reform in New Hampshire since 2007, and some of the successes have been very gratifying. After two near-victories on the medical marijuana issue (the governor vetoed bills in both 2009 and 2012), it now appears very likely that New Hampshire will pass an effective medical marijuana law in 2013.

    However, I have often wished I could do something to help seriously ill patients in my home state of West Virginia. Sadly, medical marijuana legislation hasn’t been seriously considered in the Mountain State, despite the best efforts of Delegate Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor), who introduced bills in both 2011 and 2012.

    The situation in West Virginia changed dramatically for the better this week, as Delegate Manypenny hosted a successful public forum Tuesday in the House of Delegates chamber. The forum was called “Should West Virginia Reform its Marijuana Laws?” and generated positive media coverage, including this article in the Charleston Gazette.

    Featured speakers included an emergency room physician, the president-elect of the West Virginia Nurses’ Association, and a retired police lieutenant and FBI unit chief. This impressive line-up laid to rest once and for all the notion that marijuana policy reform supporters are merely self-interested marijuana users rather than conscientious, civic-minded advocates interested in improving public policy.

    I was truly honored to be included in this forum and given the opportunity to speak about marijuana policy in the House chamber — a chamber I had last visited in the 1980’s as a student in the Wood County school system.

    With strong, credible advocates like these supporting medical marijuana in West Virginia, patients in the Mountain State finally have reason to be optimistic about the future.

    In New Hampshire, I’ve often argued that decision-makers should consider the state’s motto — Live Free or Die — when considering whether patients should be free to follow their doctors’ advice without fear of arrest. West Virginia’s state motto — Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free) — seems equally relevant to this issue.

    May both states live up to their mottos by passing effective medical marijuana laws, and may they do so soon!

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