Dear Senators and Delegates:
I am writing to let you know that I represent one of the only groups of West Virginians looking for a tax increase. As an advocate of full legalization of marijuana, I and others are asking you to allow us to contribute $194 million towards the budget crisis. This is only possible if West Virginia is one of the first movers in the mid-Atlantic states to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.
Previously, I have sent you facts, studies, and statistics, and, apparently, that has limited value to most of the Legislature despite the $600 million budget crisis and the Governor submitting the largest tax increase in WV history. Of course, West Virginia can expect higher tax revenues than the other states due to our location within a 250-mile radius of a significant amount of the eastern population of the United States and additional increased taxes from associated tourism revenues.
What I truly want to leave you with is the human aspect of this issue. Wendy Holdren and Jenny Harnish of the Beckley Register-Herald have completed a five-part series on the human side of medical marijuana To deny suffering individuals the potential relief of medical marijuana is a sad statement on our government’s treatment of our fellow mountaineers especially among the elderly and innocent. To deny government services, jobs, and an education to West Virginians due to a budgetary crisis and a refusal to legalize recreational marijuana is just as bad and a failure in governance.
On Feb. 8 as the legislative session began, marijuana legalization activists and supporters gathered in front of the Capitol. The rally was addressed by expert speakers and individuals giving their personal testimonials including your fellow legislators explaining the importance of the issue at the industrial, medical, and recreational levels. My wife, Rachel Kelly, and I were able to speak on this subject with several of you in your offices following the Make It Legal Rally. I have attached the Quick Facts on Marijuana and West Virginia that I handed out to your colleagues when I spoke to them. I hope you will find it useful as you consider this subject.
It is time to begin utilizing creative strategies like the legalization of marijuana to reverse the agriculture, financial, and economic collapse of our State. Good luck in this session and I hope that the legislature and the Justice administration can find solutions for the benefit of all West Virginians and our future generations.