Compassion Benefits of Medical Cannabis Outweigh Fiscal Potential

Charleston WV– Today, the WV Center on Budget & Policy (CBP) released the first report to attempt to catalog and quantify the potential benefits from the overall liberalization of cannabis policy in West Virginia.  Specifically, the CBP looked at the possible impacts from decriminalization as well as legalization of medical and “adult use” (i.e. recreational) cannabis use.

CompassionWV applauds the CBP for releasing this landmark report.  It documents the sizable potential economic benefit to West Virginia from “cannabis tourism,” given full legalization for adult use, as well as shows the importance of decriminalization regulations in reducing the cost of law enforcement for cannabis-relate drug arrests.  CompassionWV appreciates the work of the WV Center on Budget and Policy to move the conversation about cannabis reform forward.

While the CBP report highlights the obvious monetary benefits of full legalization and decriminalization of cannabis for the state, CompassionWV sees establishing a well-regulated medical cannabis program as the most important priority for West Virginia in terms of cannabis reform. Unfortunately, every single cannabis-related bill introduced in the 2016 legislative session was barred from moving forward by leadership in the House of Delegates, despite bipartisan support for the majority of the proposed measures.

CompassionWV is pleased the report recognizes the importance medical cannabis can have on West Virginia’s opiate crisis; however, we feel further analysis is needed into the real-world economic and social benefits that it will provide the state.  The report rightly identifies the role that medical cannabis has already played in reducing health care costs, prescription rates for certain medications and overdoses from opiates in other states.  The report also points out the difficulty in accurately quantifying the monetary benefits due to a wide variety of influential factors that are not covered in the CPB’s report.  CompassionWV hopes to be able to partner with CBP and other groups in the future to better quantify the economic impact of a well-regulated medical cannabis program on the WV budget in terms of healthcare, law enforcement, and other cost savings.

“The potential revenue generated by medical cannabis is less flashy than $194 million in tax revenue, but there are still significant cost-savings to be realized by the state. A well-regulated medical cannabis program also has human benefits in terms of reducing opiate addiction and providing relief to people who are suffering from a variety of conditions,” says Rev. Mary Nichols, executive director of Compassion WV. “The human compassion benefits should be considered just as important as the potential for generating revenue.”

About CompassionWV:
The Compassion West Virginia Foundation was established recently as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to work toward comprehensive medical cannabis reform in West Virginia. Achieving this goal will be instrumental for (1) WV patients who are suffering debilitating diseases and other chronic conditions that do not respond to the treatments offered by traditional medicine; (2) reversing the epidemic of drug overdose deaths in WV related to opiate addiction; and (3) revitalizing the WV economy through the enactment of practical yet protective regulation of medical cannabis, job creation, and taxation of a new industry.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Rev. Mary Nichols at 304-382-4939 or email at

ASA Releases Cannabis Study on Pain Management


Contact Rev. Mary Nichols 
Cell 304-382-4939
Website http://compassionwv.og

August 9, 2016



Today, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) released a report entitled “Medical Cannabis Access for Pain Treatment: A Viable Strategy to Address the Opioid Crisis” in an effort to “educate legislators and health practitioners on the benefits of medical cannabis as a treatment option for the millions of patients suffering from chronic pain.”

** Cannabis is a long-recognized, safe and effective tool for pain management.

Unlike opiates, a lethal overdose from cannabis has never been recorded during its 9,000-year use as it cannot stop a person from breathing. THC, a psychoactive component in the cannabis plant, works together with prescription opioid medications to increase effectiveness of the pain relief, to reduce the dose of opioids used, and to reduces likelihood of becoming addicted. Patients who substitute cannabis for prescription opioids to control pain report they experience less adverse side effects, less potential for withdrawal and better symptom management.

** Patients dependent on opioid medications continue to benefit from medical cannabis and state governments with medical cannabis regulatory programs continue to benefit.

Several studies have now demonstrated a reduction in opioid mortality from overdose in those states that have adopted medical cannabis regulatory programs. This was first reported in August 2014 by an oft-cited study in JAMA and has been since been confirmed by the work of analysts at the RAND Corporation through a series of reports.) Not only is the effect significant – at least 25% reduction has been reported – but it appears to strengthen over time. Some evidence exists to show that pain patients will seek out medical cannabis solutions over prescription drug solutions for management of symptoms in those markets that allow legal access to both.

** Compassion West Virginia is the Mountain State’s leading patient advocate and authority on the use of cannabis as a medicine and is working to engage & educate West Virginia legislators.

Compassion West Virginia encourages all advocates, citizens and state and local legislators to understand the contents of this important document. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that opioids—a class of drugs that includes prescription pain medications and heroin—were involved in 28,648 deaths in and 80% of the world’s supply is consumed by just 5% of the world’s population. West Virginia has a remarkably high domestic share of this 5% and all possible solutions must be put on the table. The opiate crisis has now even claimed such victims as Berkeley County Sheriff Candidate John Orem. (See ) No segment of West Virginia is untouched by the looming shadow of addiction and death, including our veterans and our law enforcement.

We hope state leaders like Governor Tomblin, Senators Manchin and Capito Moore, Attorney General Morrissey and all our locally elected officials take note of these findings and the potential to help heal our citizens and create a more prosperous West Virginia. We hope all those running for office this November take note of these findings and seek to learn more.

Compassion West Virginia advocates that West Virginia implement practical yet protective cannabis regulatory programs immediately that provide high-quality and affordable products to patients in need. Please help the movement by visiting our web site ( to donate and join the cause.

About CompassionWV
The Compassion West Virginia Foundation was established recently as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to work toward comprehensive medical cannabis reform in West Virginia. Achieving this goal will be instrumental for (1) WV patients who are suffering debilitating diseases and other chronic conditions that do not respond to the treatments offered by traditional medicine; (2) reversing the epidemic of drug overdose deaths in WV related to opiate addiction; and (3) revitalizing the WV economy through the enactment of practical yet protective regulation of medical cannabis, job creation, and taxation of a new industry.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Rev. Mary Nichols at 304-382-4939 or email at

Jamie Butcher


Weston WV Man, Paralyzed From the Neck Down, Dreams of Becoming a Bodybuilder

Weston, WV— On September 12, 2012, Jamie Butcher was involved in a devastating car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. The car in front of him, which had no working brake lights, slammed on the brakes, causing Jamie to rear-end the car at 35 mph.  Jamie was transported to the local hospital emergency room, where a CT scan suggested that nothing was wrong beyond being in shock from the accident. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The mangled remains of Jamie’s truck

The emergency room staff removed Jamie’s neck brace, and his wife, Lisa began to help dress him with the assistance of Jamie’s father. When Jamie attempted to stand, he started sliding off the bed and insisted that something was badly wrong. The emergency room staff, with the assistance of Jamie’s family, wrestled him back into bed, all without the neck brace. Jamie, who had no sensation from the neck down, demanded to be sent to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, despite the objections of the hospital staff, who continued to insist that Jamie was merely in shock. At Ruby, Jamie underwent a thorough neurological evaluation and an MRI, which showed a herniation of the C3 disk pressing on the main electrical pathway from Jamie’s brain. Jamie’s surgeon, Dr. Scott Daffner, removed part of the C3 vertebra in order to remove the disk material pressing on Jamie’s spinal cord. Dr. Daffner then used cadaver bone, 2 plates, and 8 titanium screws to stabilize Jamie’s cervical spine.



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American Pain Society Issues New Guidance on Medical Marijuana

A marijuana leaf is displayed at Canna Pi medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, November 27, 2012. Picture taken November 27, 2012.  REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

The strongest evidence in terms of the therapeutic benefits from herbal cannabis, specifically cannabinoids, suggests analgesic effects, with a lengthy list of other possible benefits, including anticonvulsant activity, relief of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, migraine relief, and inflammatory bowel disease.

“The problem is that most of the benefits are simply not well studied, with the exception of FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] indications for antiemetic and antinausea properties associated with chemotherapy and for wasting associated with HIV,” Dr Savage said.


Alexander Johnson

Alexander Johnson



Morgantown, WV– In 2014, Autum Johnson delivered a healthy, happy baby boy she named Alexander. As he developed, Alexander started to lose the ability to move. At five weeks old, Alexander was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 1 (SMA-1), a rare genetic disorder that is related to ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). As these children progressively lose movement, they become locked in their bodies. Babies with SMA-1 are not able to sit up, swallow, or breathe without assistance and require specialized 24-hour care. Alexander’s movement is currently limited to his eyebrows, jaw, and index fingers.

“I’m completely open about everything that is going on with Alex. I hope that another mother finds the information and doesn’t have to make the mistakes we made early in the process just because the information wasn’t out there,” Autum explains.

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Mike and Levi Lockard

Mike and Levi Lockard
Ireland, WV, April 29, 2016

Seven years ago, Mike Lockard and his wife brought home their fourth child, a beautiful baby boy they called Levi. Mike and his wife quickly realized that something was wrong with their son. Levi was having extreme difficulty in nursing and began rapidly losing weight. The Lockards took Levi to WVU Medical Center, where they were told their son was going to die. They were instructed that all they could do was to take their baby home and make him as comfortable as possible. Not ready to give up, Mike and his wife took Levi to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, where doctors put Levi on a temporary feeding tube. After Levi began gaining weight, the doctors put in a permanent GI tube.

Seizure Control, But With Side Effects

Levi has cerebral palsy. He is totally deaf. Along with these challenges, Levi also has two different kinds of seizures and has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Levi’s seizures are currently fairly well controlled with medication; however, these drugs come with serious side effects. In the past, when Levi was on a common seizure medication called Keppra, Levi experienced rages as a side effect of the drug where he would bite, hit himself, or bang his head onto the floor. While Levi was taking Keppra, the Lockards spent up to 16 hours a day just trying to keep Levi from hurting himself.

It’s ridiculous. With all the drugs that people are allowed to take, it doesn’t make sense that we can’t have a plant that has grown in the ground for centuries.

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WV Gubernatorial Candidates Address Marijuana Reform

Credit: wvva

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.

Colorado Lawsuit Over Pesticide-Contaminated Cannabis Dismissed

Credit: Merry Jane

A Colorado lawsuit related to pesticide contamination of marijuana was dismissed on a technicality. At issue was cannabis that was treated with a pesticide which contains the active ingredient myclobutanil. This petroleum derivative can emit hydrogen cyanide gas when the marijuana is burned. 

The LivWell suit was dismissed because of a “legal technicality:” plaintiffs lacked standing to proceed in the absence of a legally cognizable injury in fact. However, in so ruling, the court may very well have unwittingly supplied a roadmap for future lawsuits. The court’s explicit statement that plaintiffs made no allegations of physical injury suggests that such an allegation would have been sufficient to satisfy the “actual injury” requirement and would have allowed plaintiffs to proceed with their lawsuit. Thus, future plaintiffs can cure this defect merely by pleading actual injury.

CompassionWV is committed to legal patient access to safe, clean medical cannabis.