West Virginia to begin accepting medical marijuana permit applications

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West Virginia will soon begin accepting permit applications for medical cannabis.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Bureau for Public Health will accept applications for growers, processors, dispensaries, and laboratories beginning Dec. 19.

"The announcement of upcoming application availability is the first step in the process of permitting industry applicants," a DHHR press release states.

The application is online only. The application period will remain open for 60 days. Feb. 18, 2020 at 3 p.m. is the cutoff.

“This is a key step in the process to make medical cannabis available to West Virginians with serious medical conditions,” said Jason Frame, director of the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis. “We and many others continue to work toward a goal of providing eligible West Virginia residents the ability to procure quality-tested medical cannabis.”

West Virginia passed a medical marijuana law in 2017, but concerns arose shortly after about how West Virginia would comply with federal law when handling taxes and fees.

State lawmakers passed a bill in March of this year, House Bill 2538, that determined how money should be processed in the medical marijuana industry. The legislation allows the state treasurer to competitively bid banking services, and provides legal protections for the treasurer and state employees involved in cannabis banking. It opened the door for additional financial organizations, like credit unions, to bid for the job. Traditional banking companies initially showed a lack of interest in handling marijuana money because it is still federally illegal.

During the special session in May, lawmakers passed a medical marijuana vertical integration bill. The legislation allows one business to grow, process, and sell a product with the right permits. The bill only allows West Virginia companies to seek permits, keeping money and jobs within the state. Senate Bill 1037 also changes current law by eliminating a requirement for doctors to try or consider opioids before prescribing medical marijuana.

In September, State Treasurer John Perdue announced a contract had been awarded in connection with the financial side of the state's medical marijuana program. Around that same time, the Associated Press reported that patients and caregivers shouldn't expect their program cards or physicians certificates anytime soon.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) spokeswoman Allison Adler tells WSAZ it will likely take approximately 18 months before patients can procure medical cannabis.

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