Angela O'Connell fights for internal peace in Ravenswood

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Technician testing marijuana.

RAVENSWOOD Imagine walking through a patch of snow on a freezing day and stepping in hot water afterward. The intensity of the burn is strong causing extreme agony.  A shooting pain pulsates through the legs every time they move. That is how it feels for one Ravenswood resident. 

Some days are better than others for Angela O'Connell. Her chronic illnesses wrecks havoc on her life. She can't play with her grandchildren like she used to. Her muscles freeze up too much. 

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O'Connell moved back to Jackson County a little over a year ago after her husband died. She previously lived in Colorado where she had access to medical marijuana to treat her pain.

She's been without it for 18 months. She refuses to go on more prescribed narcotic medications than what's necessary.

"I take what I have to take," O'Connell said. 

O'Connell said some of the pain medications are hard on her kidneys and have intense side effects like blurred vision and drowsiness. 

Her late husband struggled with a narcotic addiction, according to O'Connell.

"It can be treated but that's just pain medication, and with that comes addictions," O'Connell said. "So I choose, until [medical marijuana is] available, to suffer." 

Mountaineer Integrated Care said it will open a plant and distillery in Ravenswood, according to its website. 

Ravenswood Mayor Josh Miller said the city has entered a contingency agreement with the company to lease the old city hall building 212 Walnut Street — once the company is ready to sell medical cannabis. 

Frustrated and confused that's how Miller feels about the delays on the local and state-level for people to get medical marijuana treatment. 

Miller doesn't have an opening date for the dispensary in Ravenswood. Jackson Newspapers reached out to multiple Mountaineer Medical Care representatives and hasn't gotten a response. 

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He said he's watched friends and family struggle with addiction. That's why he's a medical marijuana advocate.

"I understand it's a drug, but it ... serves a purpose," Miller said. "I think it can help people."

In order for a patient to receive medical marijuana treatment, they must have at least one of the 15 listed serious medical conditions listed on the Department of Health and Human Resources website

Miller said he wishes West Virginia would expand its medical condition requirements. In Pennsylvania, there are 23 qualifying medical conditions and Ohio has 24

Miller and O'Connell are both excited about the dispensary opening in Ravenswood. Not only would this help people, Miller said, but it would also help the state and local economy. 

"I think we just need to push forward and follow what a lot of what these successful states that have rolled out medicinal cannabis [laws] and look at what they've done and just mimic that," Miller said. 

West Virginia passed its Medical Cannabis Act in 2017, and only one company has successfully begun planting medicinal marijuana at a facility in Cabell County, according to a report

O'Connell said she will continue to live in pain until a dispensary opens in West Virginia.

— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.