CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda has stated that he believes the United States needs to decriminalize marijuana, federally legalize it for medicinal use and move it to a Schedule 4 Drug. Ojeda was the lead sponsor of SB 386 in West Virginia which legalized medical cannabis statewide.

Currently there are over 2 million Americans medicating with cannabis. Many of those patients do so in states where medical use is not permitted. According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, states with legal medical cannabis see a continued drop of drug overdose rates over time.

“It is clear to most Americans that being able to prescribe someone cannabis for their chronic pain rather than an addictive opioid is much better solution,” Ojeda said. “We need to end this senseless war on cannabis. We need to take a look at why states with medical cannabis see a decrease in drug overdose rates and why we are not targeting pharmaceutical companies that have made billions off of addicted Americans with the same vigor that we are targeting people with small possession charges. Further, we need to end the federal ban on medical cannabis, decriminalize marijuana and move it to a Schedule 4 drug.

“As a nation, we are seeing opioid addiction lead to heroin and consume entire communities. At a time when we are losing more Americans to drug overdoses than we lost in the Vietnam War in a single year, it makes a lot more sense to me to give people a non-addictive alternative for their illnesses. Not only can we prevent more people from going down the addictive path of opioids, we can bring relief to our first responders and jail systems which are overcrowded with non-violent criminals,” Ojeda said.

“Overall, we need a bold change in the way we fight the opioid epidemic. A good first step is looking at the possibility of using cannabis, not more pharmaceutical drugs. Our emphasis must be on treatment, but medical cannabis can supplement treatment and prevent many from ever needing an opioid prescription in the first place. The decision for a patient’s treatment should come down to their doctor, not the federal government and now in many states, doctors are telling patients with chronic illnesses to resort to cannabis.”

“I fought for SB 386 in West Virginia and I will gladly take the same fight with me to Washington. Last year was only the first step for West Virginia in terms of medical cannabis. This session we are working to strengthen our bill and allow patients to grow their own medicine, have access to gummies, lower the cost of the growing licenses and eliminate the cap on how many licenses will be available.”