GREEN VALLEY — The issue of medical cannabis was again brought before the Mercer County Board of Health at its monthly meeting Wednesday at the Mercer County Health Center.
Mercer County Del. John Shott (R-Mercer), explained that SB-386, the legislation which authorized the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes under certain controlled conditions, came to the House of Delegates during the last week of the 2018 legislative session as a “surprise”.
“Under usual procedure, you have time to hold readings in committee before bringing it up to the full chamber for a vote. The House leadership was caught off-guard by this bill. We wanted broad powers to license and supervise providers, an inspection provision and criminal punishment for violations,” he said.
After the House Judiciary Committee, which he chaired, worked on the bill over a weekend, it passed by a 72-28 margin.
“My concern is this: People are using these products without proper medical supervision or go without because they don’t want to break the law. There are two authorized growers in Raleigh County,” he added.
As of now, he said, there were 285 applications for dispensaries and growers in the state, despite 25 of the 55 counties having taken no action under the law.
“Thirty-four states have passed some form of medical cannabis law and none have attempted to repeal it,” Shott commented.
Board member Stacey Hicks asked Shott about penalties for abuse of the law by providers. Shott responded by saying the law has jail sentences of 1-5 years and substantial fines for violators.
Roger Topping asked if all physicians could apply for the training to which Shott said yes.
The board said they would take the matter under advisement once again.
Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.