W.Va.'s mock seniors legislature backs legal pot
10/21/2013 - The Associated Press
West Virginia's mock legislature for seniors is calling on its real-life counterpart to legalize marijuana.
The proposal to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana is one of several position papers approved by the Silver-Haired Legislature during its 2013 session held last week at the Capitol in Charleston. Another position paper proposes making cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, available by prescription only, the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/GWwF40) reported Sunday.
The marijuana position paper says revenue from taxing marijuana should go toward drug-rehabilitation programs and reforming the prison system.
According to the position paper, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes since 1996 and these laws don't appear to have caused any serious social problems.
"In many cases, it is a more effective and less dangerous option than pharmaceutical drugs," the position paper states.
"The proposed reform would make it possible for adults battling illnesses to access marijuana safely and legally, without having to deal with an illicit market dominated by criminals."
It also notes that voters in Colorado and Washington state approved legalizing marijuana for all adults 21 years and older in 2012.
"I was pleased with what we did," George Moore, the Silver-Haired House of Delegates speaker, told the newspaper. "We cannot write laws or pass legislation. But we can write position papers. This time, most politicians were interested in our activities. I am tickled to death about it."
Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, has been urging the West Virginia Legislature to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
"The Silver-Haired Legislature's bill is for the decriminalization of all marijuana, not just medical marijuana. They applied the same taxing of the product that we have proposed to fight substance abuse through treatment and drug prevention programs," Manypenny told the newspaper.
"I am very encouraged by their forward thinking and their progressive stance on this, because this reaches all spectrums of society. I really enjoyed speaking to them," said Manypenny, who addressed the mock legislature last week.
Moore said that it's easier for members of the Silver-Haired Legislature to approve position papers than it is for the real Legislature to pass laws.
"We can do this kind of thing without having to deal with the lobbyists," the South Charleston resident said.
Another position paper calls for making organ donations automatic, unless a deceased person had previously registered not to become an organ donor.
Currently, West Virginians must sign up to become organ donors.
The Silver-Haired Legislature began in 1981. The West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services helps coordinate the election of Silver-Haired legislators, who must be 60 or older.