Although he said he decided not to support a legalization bill during the last legislative session, Ellington thinks some patients could benefit from using marijuana.
"Personally, I am a physician. I believe there may be some medical use," Ellington said.
"If it's done properly, we may be able to implement something. I don't want to see it deteriorate and see a lot of people getting high on pot and going to other drugs and things like that."
The concept of marijuana as a gateway drug bothered other lawmakers as well. Sen. Ron Stollings, a Boone County Democrat and a physician, questioned whether there was a conclusive study that linked marijuana usage to using other drugs.
Hanson said she did not know of a study, but Perdue said he and others believe it can be a gateway drug.
Perdue, a retired pharmacist, said many drugs have the capacity for abuse. Weighing potential benefits needs to be part of that conversation, he argued.
During the committee meeting Sobonya also asked about if legalizing medical marijuana led to increased arrests for impaired driving, and if there was any particular form of consumption included in any laws.
Hanson said she had not seen any conclusive data that showed legalization of medical marijuana directly caused increased impaired driving citations. In states that have legalized marijuana, it's consumed in a variety of different ways, from smoking to inhaling vapor to eating products that include marijuana, Hanson said.
It's going to take lawmakers asking questions and receiving information for a medical marijuana legalization bill to pass the Legislature, said Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor.
For the last three years Manypenny has introduced a legalization bill. Although there was practically no formal support for those measures, Manypenny said recently he's noticed a change in attitudes among lawmakers.
After introducing the measure and still winning re-election, Manypenny thinks other lawmakers see it's not political suicide to support medical marijuana. In fact, he's confident the measure has a real chance of passage in the near future.
"I think this year we'll at least get it through a committee, if not two committees," Manypenny said.
"I'd like to see it go to the floor for a vote. I anticipate if it doesn't, it'll be one more year, and I'm sure we can have it passed by 2015."
Ellington thought lawmakers still had plenty of questions, but the measure is potentially moving forward. Perdue said he still needed to speak with other lawmakers to see where they stood. He could support a legalization measure, but only if it had the support of others.
"If the citizens of the state of West Virginia seem to be headed in that direction and the Legislature is going along with them, then yes, I could be comfortable in taking up legislation like that," Perdue said. "But if it is just an exercise in futility, no, I can't justify that."
Perdue didn't say how many other lawmakers it would take to convince him to move forward with the bill. With legislators facing an election next fall, whipping up support could be difficult during the 2014 session, Perdue has said.