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WV delegate’s speech on medical pot hits home

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo Bill Flanigan, R-Mon.
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo
Bill Flanigan, R-Mon.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Days after giving his first speech on the West Virginia House of Delegates floor — about his experience with medical marijuana — Delegate Bill Flanigan’s palms are still sweaty when he talks about it.

The speech wasn’t easy for Flanigan, the newest member of the House of Delegates, and it’s still uncomfortable for him to talk about his experience. Even though medical marijuana provided him numerous benefits while he was going through chemotherapy, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that he did something wrong. After all, marijuana is still illegal in West Virginia.

Then, he gets frustrated with himself for not being able to shake the feeling.

“It was tough,” the Monongalia County Republican said, “and it shouldn’t have been tough.”

He recognizes, though, that those perceptions about marijuana need to change.

“Ultimately, I don’t feel like I should feel like a degenerate criminal for using a medicine that gave me so many benefits,” he said.

On the House of Delegates floor this week, Flanigan was visibly frustrated as he spoke against a bill (HB 4576) that would have lengthened prison terms for people bringing drugs into the state. For marijuana, it would have raised the highest prison sentence from five years to 15 years.

To Flanigan, that meant lawmakers wanted to increase penalties for transporting a drug that had helped him during the most agonizing time of his life…

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