Picture this: you’re sitting in your pick-up truck, coming home from a long day of work. You’re driving through the Appalachians, John Denver serenading you on loop. Your thoughts are on the inevitable R&R waiting for you at home. You creep up the side of the mountain, and pull into your driveway. You step inside, sit down, and light up a 100% legal joint, and the stress of a hard day is washed away.
Then you wake up, because presently, legal recreational marijuana in West Virginia is just a dream.
Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee the accuracy of this article at the time of reading. We take no responsibility for any inaccurate information.
West Virginia Marijuana Laws
As the intro states, recreational marijuana is not legal in West Virginia. Possession of any amount, big or small, is considered a misdemeanor. As West Virginia is a state with mandatory minimum sentencing, charges of this nature likely carry a minimum 90 day stay in prison. Overall, a misdemeanor possession can carry up to 6 months, with a $1000 fine. This is assuming you aren’t charged with distribution, where at any amount, you’ll face a minimum of a year in prison and a $15,000 fine.
If there is some glimmer of hope, it’s in the status of the state’s medical marijuana program. The program was signed into law in 2016. While still a right step, West Virginia’s MMJ program has been slow to build, and is currently still not operational. Future patients of the program will not be permitted to grow at home.
West Virginian Hemp
In 2018 the production of hemp for commercial use was legalized through the farm bill. 155 acres of industrial hemp was produced in West Virginia that year, namely to help produce CBD oil due to its high profits per acre ratio. Following the price point of $75,000 per acre, that 155 acres is representative of $11.5 million. This has led to farmers strongly embracing the hemp industry with 158 industrial licenses for hemp farming issued in 2019, with this number only expected to grow.
Public Opinion On Legalizing Marijuana
Given West Virginia’s overabundance of Republican representatives, you could be forgiven for thinking that the citizens of the state share their representative’s disdain for marijuana. However, a University of Mary Washington poll found that 61% of the state approve of legalizing adult-use cannabis. As of 2019, House Democrats are leaning hard into legislation leading to legalization, though Governor Jim Justice stated he’s “adamantly, etched in stone, adamantly against recreational marijuana“.
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Predictions For Future West Virginia
While the odds are stacked against West Virginians at a state level, it’s a stretch to say that legalized recreational marijuana is fully off the cards. From support in the House of Representatives, to the growing hemp industry, it’s a no brainer (in our biased opinion). However, this doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome. With the states existing legal framework surrounding possession, as well as the general nature of conservative representatives, it’s unlikely anything meaningful will pass until either:
a) The existing representative’s views reflect those of the public, or
b) The existing representatives are replaced with ones that will recognize the public’s stance.
Sad as it is to say, the ball’s in your court, West Virginia.
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