West Virginia medical marijuana legalization could cross state lines

Fear is it will carry over into more illegal use in Virginia

ROANOKE, Va. – There's concern new legislation in West Virginia legalizing medical marijuana could have a negative impact in southwest Virginia.

The Mountain State became the 29th state to allow the use of medical marijuana this week. The fear is it will carry over into more illegal use in Virginia.

All this, as a new Quinnipiac poll finds more Americans than ever at 60 percent want marijuana legalized.

According to the Virginia Health Department, southwest Virginia has among the highest drug abuse rates in the state.

Now, as West Virginia legalizes medical use of a schedule one drug, that has some worried the problem will only get worse. Executive director of the Prevention Council of the Roanoke Valley, Nancy Hans said there are consequences states should consider before making the decision to legalize.

"There is a connection. People that are addicted to heroin and opioids don't wake up and say they are addicted to heroin. It starts with other drugs and we need to understand that marijuana is part of those other drugs,” Hans said.

As the bill was being signed, Hans was traveling to Atlanta for a SAM or Smart Approaches to Marijuana conference to learn about how states are combating abuse when legalization efforts are underway nationwide.

"When states have said yes to quote on quote medical marijuana, that is the road to full legalization,” Hans said.“It is that road that leads to full legalization that has caused everything to rise in numbers, such as usage, the impact on impaired driving, impact on drugs on the workplace, so those are all pieces that need to be looked at as West Virginia decides to walk down this road."

West Virginia's medical cannabis act will go into effect in July 2018.

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