West Virginia Sen. Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Ripley) introduced a bill this week that would allow state residents with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV\/AIDS, to grow and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The bill, known as SB 546, would establish a state-regulated system of medical marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to licensed patients. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey Kessler (D-Glen Dale) and Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall (R-Oceana), has been introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources.\r\n\r\n\u201cMarijuana has proven effective in treating a number of serious medical conditions and is far safer than many currently prescribed medications,\u201d said Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. \u201cNo one deserves to be treated like a criminal for using marijuana to treat a serious medical condition.\r\n\r\n\u201cWest Virginians deserve the chance to use this medicine if their doctors think that it will help,\u201d Simon said. \u201cIt\u2019s time to stop criminalizing patients for using a treatment option that can dramatically improve their quality of life.\u201d\r\n\r\nTwenty-three states, Guam, and the District of Columbia have adopted laws that allow people with certain debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.