Pot One Step Closer to West Virginia

Libertarians Hold Speaker Hostage, Force Republicans to Abandon Platform; Medical Pot One Step Closer to West Virginia

by Allen Whitt
Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Only 24 members of the West Virginia House were brave enough to vote against SB386 legalizing marijuana. That means a combination of 76 Republicans and Democrats and an Independent voted to make “medical cannibis” legal by backing Senate Bill 386 known as the Medical Cannibis Act. 76-24

Click to see the roll call vote. ]

Beware West Virginia, Socialism always fails because eventually you run out of other peoples money and libertarianism always fails because eventually you run out of other people’s morality.

When bills are passed in one house a message is sent to the other house via a paper copy of the bill and this typically mundane task is handled by a page or secretary or lowly staffer. But last Thursday Senate President Mitch Carmichael sent a strange emissary parade across the Capitol building from the west wing. The parade trailed around the rotunda and eventually made it’s way to the House clerk’s office.

This almost never-been-seen-before formal attache’, headed by the Senate Clerk Clark Barnes, included multiple members of the media including TV cameras. Barnes carried the unexpected message that the Republican led Senate had passed SB386, a bill legalizing “medical” cannibis. The jarring message was ostantasiously delivered to the House with much pomp and circumstance so as not to be set aside or land into a stack of other senate messages about legislation.

Shame on the Republican-led senate for kicking this tire fire of a bill over to the House and putting our Speaker Tim Armstead in a horrible no-win position.

The standard procedure is the House would receive messages from the Senate about passed Senate bills and then the Speaker of the House would assign those bills to various committees. The Speaker Tim Armstead has been consistently vocal that he opposed the legalization of marijuana on the moral ground that more intoxicants, no matter what the motivation, is not the way to move West Virginia forward.

If the speaker assigned SB386 to one or two committees as the senate had done, the bill would likely not have time to be considered this session. That is a common procedure used by both houses to prevent objectionable bills from being considered. So several libertarian-leaning Republican House Delegates, who were proponents of legalizing marijuana, convinced a total of 19 Republicans to join with the 36 Democrats and rebel against the Speaker. It was a rarely-used procedural motion to dispense with committee and push the bill directly to the floor of the House without being vetted. The House leadership was caught a bit flat-footed and the motion passed 56-40 with 6 absent.






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