Special session begins with attempt to get medical marijuana bill onto agenda
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The special legislative session kicked off with an attempt by House Democrats to introduce a medical marijuana bill and move it right to the floor.
The bill was not part of the call issued by Gov. Jim Justice.
But some lawmakers have said a bill is necessary to assure monetary transactions for growers and operators as the new law takes effect.
The lead sponsor of the West Virginia Medical Cannibis Banking Act is Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha.
Democrats made a motion on Sunday evening to dispense with reference to a committee and to have the bill read a first time on the floor.
The motion was discussed for several minutes.
One supporter of West Virginia’s medical marijuana law, Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley, rose to say such a maneuver wouldn’t be lawful in special session outside of bills introduced by the governor.
“This is something that’s dear to my heart, but it’s clearly unconstitutional,” Folk said on the floor.
The motion was rejected 32-56.
The bill was assigned to three committees — the House Health Committee, the Banking and Finance Committee and the Finance Committee.
A triple reference is usually a tall order for a bill even during a regular, 60-day session. So the bill would seem to have a particularly uphill climb during a much shorter special session.
Both houses of the state Legislature gaveled in Sunday evening for the special session that coincides with regularly-scheduled legislative interim meetings.
Several are meant to clean up some pieces of recently-passed legislation. Some others are supplemental appropriations.
One bill deals continues the restructuring of what had been the Department of Education and the Arts.
The current commissioner of culture and history will become the curator of arts, culture and history. The curator will report directly to the governor.
Both houses read that bill a first time on Sunday evening.
Another is a bill dealing with death benefits for firefighters killed in the line of duty. It is meant to make greater death benefits retroactively effective to Jan. 1 to help families of Pratt volunteer firefighters who died in a crash as they were responding to a fatal accident on the West Virginia Turnpike.
That bill also was read a first time in both houses Sunday evening.
The House of Delegates adjourned until 11 a.m. Monday. The Senate adjourned until noon Monday.