In a debate televised by WV Public Media on April 18, 2016, Democratic candidates for governor were asked their views on legalizing marijuana.
State Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler is in favor of taking steps to decriminalize certain marijuana-related offenses. He also supports legalizing medical marijuana for people with serious medical conditions, such as cancer and MS.
I think we need to decriminalize some of the [. . .] particularly marijuana offenses. There are way too many people that have got a criminal record that can no longer work. — Kessler
Kessler also pointed out the challenge of getting any marijuana reform through the current legislature, citing the difficulty of passing the “brunch bill,” which allows for sale of alcohol before 1 PM on Sunday.
One of Kessler’s opponents, former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, is more cautious in his views on cannabis. Goodwin fears that legalizing marijuana, even for medical use, could add to WV’s already overwhelming drug addiction problems.
People don’t understand that the marijuana of today has 10 times the THC content of the marijuana of the late ’60s, early ’70s,” Goodwin said, “but here is the problem I have ultimately is, every time we have arrested a druggy, they have said they went through marijuana. –Goodwin
The third candidate, Jim Justice, declined multiple invitations to participate in last night’s debate.