For weeks, West Virginians have been told that SB386, the “WV Medical Marijuana Act,” is specifically to serve as a health benefit for our state. This claim is made despite proven research that the substance can cause more problems than it can temporarily curtail. Marijuana covers up symptoms, rather than serving as a cure for illnesses. Nevertheless, it appears that while this reason was given, there is a deeper reality that needs to be revealed.
Just prior to the passage of SB386, it was exposed that the main organization pushing for medical marijuana in West Virginia is a recreational marijuana advocacy organization.
NORML is a recreational marijuana lobbying organization, that seeks to normalize such usage in the United States.
According to NORML.org, the organization states, “NORML is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby that for more than 40 years has provided a voice for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition. We represent the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly and believe the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime.”
On April 3, 2017, West Virginia NORML released a statement on their website, applauding the legislature for their closer step toward recreational legalization with their medical weed bill.
“West Virginia has a medical marijuana bill that is close to becoming law. Senate Bill 386 was introduced early in the session and surprisingly made its way through both of its assigned committees with very little opposition,” said David Dawson, Legal Counsel for West Virginia NORML. “SB386 passed the Senate with huge support, 28-6, and is now on its second reading in the House of Delegates.”
In their statement, they also expressed that they gathered a team of pro-marijuana lobbyists to approach West Virginia delegates and senators to vote for the legislation.
“In the weeks leading up to the Senate vote on SB386, Jesse Johnson, executive director of West Virginia NORML, along [with] Rusty Williams, West Virginia NORML board member, worked diligently to build a broad coalition of volunteer advocates to lobby state lawmakers in support of the bill. From regularly calling legislative offices and writing their representatives, to meeting face to face with lawmakers, it’s safe to say SB386 would not be where it is today if not for the efforts of West Virginia NORML.”
The organization is also backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
On their website and social media accounts, they included a call to action. They also instructed their members to flood the voicemails of delegates. This is predominantly responsible for legislators getting bombarded with calls from pro-marijuana supporters, especially compared to voices from opponents. It was a funded effort to push for marijuana in West Virginia.
“While there’s certainly a reason to celebrate, SB 386 still faces an uncertain future. With an uphill battle expected in the House of Delegates, members of West Virginia NORML are calling for supporters of SB386 to join them in a final push to encourage a yes vote from members of the House.”
On April 3, 2017, The West Virginia Republican Party issued an official statement opposing SB386 and urged lawmakers to vote against the bill.
“We support those who are practicing drug-abuse prevention efforts at the local and state levels and oppose the normalization, legalization, or decriminalization of any illicit drugs,” the WVGOP expressed. “Thousands of Republicans gave input for the state party platform and now we ask you honor the will of those citizens. It is heartbreaking for our grassroots volunteers to see SB386 on the verge of becoming law. We ask our members to vote NO on Senate Bill 386.”
WV NORML then released a statement, revealing that they successfully lobbied to 20 Republican legislators, getting them to abandon the official position of their party.
“This is where the party stands, 20 of their members stand by the people,” the NORML post read.
Rather than upholding the party platform, House and Senatorial republicans folded to lobbyists. SB386 was not created to help West Virginians, but rather to serve as a stepping stone for the recreational marijuana lobby. Marijuana is recognized as being a multi-billion dollar industry. While it generates little flexible revenue for states that legalize it (due to the cost of legalization), it generates great revenue for pot growers and dealers.
NORML and pro-marijuana retailers (drug dealers) profess that marijuana usage is healthy, so they will generate additional revenue for themselves. They accuse any organization that provides factual information on the substance as working with “Big Pharma,” when they are actually working for the billion-dollar marijuana lobby. They do not care about the health of others; they only care about selling their drug. If this means falsely professing that marijuana is healthy, so be it; they will do it. And they have.
One argument often used by pot supporters is that “marijuana is just a plant; therefore, it should not be illegal.” At the same time, marijuana advocates have condemned opioid usage; however, the opium poppy is also a plant that is illegal to grow. Should we legalize recreational growth of the opium poppy, just because it is a plant? Just because it is a plant does not mean that it harmless or “not a drug.” Their argument is invalid.
The Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas in Dallas, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Centers for Disease Control, Federal Drug Administration, University of Washington, University of California, University of South Carolina, The American Lung Association, American Chemical Society, The New England Journal of Medicine and American University have all conducted studies finding harmful side-effects from marijuana use. These side-effects include: schizophrenia, paranoia, social anxiety disorders, raises the risk of depression, thoughts of suicide, worsens symptoms of bipolar disease, learning, memory and attention are impaired, other causes of psychosis, chronic bronchitis, myocardial infractions, carcinogens through the smoke, raises the risk of testicular cancer, etc.
Delegates and State Senators in West Virginia have been deceived by NORML into believing that this bill is to help their constituents, when (as their mission clearly states) it is actually to financially benefit professional marijuana-drug dealers, by serving as a step closer to recreational use.
Sen. Robert Karnes, Sen. Greg Boso and Delegate Bill Hamilton (all Republicans) voted in support of this bill.