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March 12, 2018 – Armstead acts boldly and stops a bad pot expansion bill. Four years ago we saw a historic shift of political power at West Virginia’s Legislature. And long-time Elkview, House Delegate Tim Armstead from the 40th district, was elected by his peers in the House as the first Republican speaker in 83 years.
Photo: Speaker Tim Armstead of the West Virginia House with President Allen Whitt of the Family Policy Council as Armstead addressed the Religious Freedom Rally in 2016.
Armstead, is known inside and outside of the legislature as a man of Christian faith and unusually unshakable character. Last Saturday night that selection paid dividends to West Virginia’s faith voters and to voters that care about verifiable medical science.
As his final act as Speaker during a regular session, Armstead saved West Virginia from a perilous pro-pot rebellion. Armstead heroically let a bill die that would have dramatically expanded the legalized marijuana law that passed last year. The Speaker announced earlier in the session that he would not run again for the House. Announcing such a thing in the middle of a session removes a Speaker’s stick of discipline and wouldn’t be a recommended approach by political consultants. But the capitol chatter says that was Armstead’s above-reproach approach to a likely run for the West Virginia State Supreme Court in 2020. He didn’t want anyone to accuse him of not doing his duties while running for another office.
The Family Policy Council @FamilyPolicyWV had been working all week with conservatives in the West Virginia senate chamber trying to modify the language of the dangerous bill before it got back to Armstead and the House. Those change efforts were successful and slowed the bill down for a few days. Our lobbying and the dedication of a few senators was just enough to stretch the clock till late Saturday night. The bill finally left the senate with seventeen pages of new language. It got to the House late and immediately drew legal concerns from Armstead, who is an attorney.
The Speaker’s leadership team saw no indication that the pro-pot House members cared that the bill had serious legal and scientific flaws. So in perhaps the most courageous act of leadership during his entire tenure, the Speaker chose not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote even though a majority mob of House members wanted it. During each legislative session any bill not finalized by midnight on the 60th day, dies.
Family Policy Council President, Allen Whitt said, “Speaker Armstead boldly, swam upstream and protected West Virginia against a very bad piece of legislation. He did so even when the majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the House ignored obvious flaws, looked the other way and demanded their pot expansion anyway.”
1.) The Speaker’s actions delivered a heroic eleventh-hour defense of West Virginia’s faithful citizens, especially those who oppose the expansion of controlled substances on religious principle. We believe a sober mind is necessary to accomplish the virtue of selflessness.
2.) It was a victory for those who believe medicine should be based on actual science, including empirical data from double-blind controlled studies. (See the empirical shortcomings of the bill below)
3.) It was a victory for Republican voters that believe elected Republican legislators should vote according to the West Virginia Republican Party platform, which clearly opposes the legalization of marijuana.
4.) It was a victory for every West Virginia family who has suffered with a loved one who began their opioid addiction by using the gateway drug of marijuana. Like Wayne Miller, “We buried my Nephew last month, from a drug overdose. He started his path to addiction by smoking pot.”
The Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates has the authority to appoint all of the committee chairman and therefore has a great deal of power to be able to steer the agenda. Which bills will and won’t be heard in committee, and the pace that they will progress are usually controlled by the Speaker’s leadership team. The same usually goes for the President of the Senate in that chamber of the legislature.
But on the final weekend of last year’s 2017 session, a break-away group of mostly younger and Libertarian Republican House members, joined with the Democrats. That majority forced an unexpected procedural vote that prevented the Speaker from sending the senate’s pro-pot bill to committee to be vetted. That rebellious act by some House Republicans was disrespectful towards the Speaker, who has always been supportive of the Republican platform on this issue. Tim Armstead both the person and the politician has openly opposed legalizing marijuana and understands that the “medical” cannabis effort is simply a Trojan horse eventually delivering legalized recreational marijuana to West Virginia.
But the rebellious coalition of R’s, L’s and D’s in 2017, rerouted the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act onto the full house floor for a full up or down vote. They did so before the Speaker could even send the bill to committee so they could evaluate it’s potential dangers. Eventually that rebellion succeeded. But because of members of the Speaker’s leadership team interviewed, that bill included many prudent restrictions on the newly created “medical” pot industry in West Virginia.
Ignoring the DEA, the rebellion created a new West Virginia “medical’ pot industry that could only operate outside of Federal law.
U.S. Federal drug law still bans the sale of cannabis in any form. Federal law prevents doctors from prescribing it and Federal law prevents banking institutions from allowing accounts that include monies from the sale of cannabis. Yet the “wiser” rebels, equipped with a stack of propaganda from the legalization-of-pro-recreational-pot lobbyists, changed West Virginia medicine so it now includes pot obtained from a political commission. The 2017 House heard one sad anecdotal story after another about sick children that had experienced miraculous benefits from blazing up a blunt. The House heard one delegate after another, both Democrats and Republicans, who suddenly became quite religious, quoting scripture about how we should use every “herb of the field,” because it would help with our opioid crisis. Sic ‘because pot-heads don’t get addicted to pot?’
At The Family Policy Council of West Virginia our hearts truly go out to those with illnesses where proven treatment has offered little hope. Our hearts go the families with end-stage cancer who fly to Mexico for experimental treatments that are “unfairly denied” them by the industrial medical complex. A complex that has healed people for decades but that is supposedly now bent on keeping people sick. Having sick loved ones will make compassionate people try anything if someone sells them false hope. But in those moments rarely can people think selflessly.
‘I don’t care if I am being played by recreational pot advocates. I don’t care that they are using the suffering of my wife, my child, my emotional suffering or my desperation. If I’m just being used as a conduit to eventually legalize recreational pot, I don’t care. If there’s even one percent chance that it helps, even one percent chance that it eases her suffering, then I don’t care right now about what my decision will do to the rest of society.’
And it’s for THAT reason that those of us at the Family Policy Council take such a hard line against the premature legalization of cannabis. These legislative marijuana battles are new to West Virginia so they are fresh and raw. But our staff has the benefit of all of the knowledge of the Family Policy Alliance nationwide. And these same battles have been going on for a decade and a half in various states.
Each time the players are the same. We’ve seen the exact same pot lobbyists in multiple states. Their arguments are the same. *Sick kids, *suffering, *”they” don’t want you to know the benefits, *the medical industry wants you sick and *big pharma, Big Pharma, BIG PHARMA!!!!!!!!! In each state, in each fight on this topic, every time the strategy is the same. Use the compassionate, exploit Christian mercy, take advantage of the vocal few who will demand change regardless of the science. And the end game is also always the same, the legalization of recreational pot.
So this last bit of truth is for the activists who’ve already begun falsely accusing The Family Policy Council of opposing pro-pot efforts because we’re in the pocket of “Big Pharma.” We have never accepted donations from any drug company. Those corporations are so overwhelmingly pro-LGBTQAI activists do you seriously think they would ever donate a penny to us? Think that through.
However, if “big pharma” could come up with an injection that would temporarily paralyze the tounges of those who spread lies to accomplish a political goal and of those who maliciously manipulate the vulnerable, all just to legally catch a buzz, well…then we might give serious consideration to making a donation to THEM.
But for now a cooler head has prevailed and the “medical” pot movement in the legislature is delayed. Now pray that the Governor doesn’t step in and call a special session to push this. And voters beware, there WILL be a new speaker of the house next session. (And we pray there will be a new senate president.) The social conservative Republicans only number about 22 in the House. That leaves about 44 moderates and libertarians. There are elections that will determine the makeup of the House and if the new speaker will be part of the pro-pot mob or a social conservative like Armstead. Watch for our voters guide before the primary. West Virginia is at a dangerous crossroads.
Empirical Studies Especially on Smoked-Marijuana, (what the house bill attempted to add) Lack Scientific Validity
(1) The lack of research identifying any condition that will positively respond to an ingredient in marijuana; There is very little peer-reviewed and reproductive research that specifically identifies a medical condition that can be beneficially treated with cannabis. Hearsays, anecdotes, and personal opinions are difficult to translate into medical prescription.
(2) The lack of research and clinical trials to determine dosages: Much research still needs to be done to identify which of marijuana’s ingredients should be prescribed, and the correct dosage of that ingredient, based on the patients weight, age, sex, and condition.
(3) The lack of research on marijuana interaction with other medications: Before medications can be safely prescribed, Doctors need to access to information about potential drug interactions. Not knowing this could have serious-even fatal consequences.
(4) The lack of consistency in concentration of the medical ingredient: Currently, marijuana growers are not subject to regulations that would result in purity standards of concistency of concentration of the “medical” ingredients… Samples can vary significantly in terms of active ingredients…
(5) .The American Medical Association Has opposed the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes…
(6) The Canadian Medical Association stated that there ” remains scant evidence reguarding the effectiveness of the herbal form of marijuana”. The CMA still believes there is insufficient scientific evidence available to support the use of marijuana for clinical purposes. It also believes there is insufficient evidenceon clinical risks and benifits, including proper dosage of marijuana to be used and on the potential interactions between this drug and other medications…
(7) The Association of Physicians, resists the use of, so-called, “medical marijuana”, as there is currently little solid clinical evidence that the drug is effective.