West Virginia will become the 29th state in the US to decriminalize marijuana, after a bill to legalize it for medical purposes is passed.
The bill, called Senate Bill 386, has passed both chambers of the state government. It’s expected to be signed into law by Governor Jim Justice, who is himself an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana.
Those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain and brain injury, will welcome the news of the passing of the bill
Heroin use goes down in states where marijuana is legal, according to several research papers.
According to the Center for Disease Control, West Virginia has the highest opioid drug overdose death rate in the country. Between 2014 and 2015, overdoses have increased by close to 17%.
Co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research, found that opioid overdose deaths decrease by almost 25% in states that decriminalize the drug.
The report also showed that during the first year after such a decriminalizing law is passed, there is a decrease in deaths caused by prescription opioids.
However, the law in West Virginia, if it passes, would be more restrictive than other states, as senators made amendments to the bill, including banning the use of cannabis in its natural, flower form on April 5.
The war on drugs:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is currently cracking down on drug use on a national level, imposing harsher sentences for drug-related offences. He had famously declared that cannabis was “only slightly less awful” than heroin.
According to critics, the war on drugs has led to a disproportionate number of people of color behind bars and making them disenfranchised from society.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize cannabis. Measures vary across states depending on why people would consume the drug and in what form.
Five states, including southern, traditionally Republican states, voted in favor of either legalizing the drug or considering legislation to decriminalize it on the night of the presidential election.
According to a nationwide Gallup poll released in October, 60% of respondents supported the legalization of cannabis.
While in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to legalize marijuana across the country by 2018.