After Four Years, West Virginia Finally Opens Medical Cannabis Registration

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It’s been four years since West Virginia legalized medical cannabis, and until now, they have not had an actual program in place for patients to get relief. Now, eligible patients can finally register and officially become a part of the program.

While medical cannabis business permits started being awarded as far back as October of last year, it has taken this long for them to get things up and running for patients to be able to get involved. The state just recently was able to get a testing lab approved, which was a missing step necessary for the program to move forward.

Patients who suffer from cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and chronic pain are eligible to register. In order to get medical cannabis, like in other legal states, patients must get a recommendation from a registered doctor. In order to get a medical cannabis card, once they are approved, patients can visit medcanwv.org.

Now that sales are on track to start, they are expected to reach up to $700,000 this year in the state. 

A Promising Start For Medical Cannabis In West Virginia

As of Monday of this week, according to the Office of Medical Cannabis, a subset of the Department of Health and Human Resources, almost 1,400 applications have been received from potential patients.

“There are many West Virginians who are experiencing chronic pain due to a serious medical condition,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, the state health officer and commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “Registering for a medical cannabis card through the web portal will ensure these patients will have access to medical cannabis at the time products are available, which is anticipated by fall 2021.”

So far, DHHR has announced Analabs Inc. as the testing laboratory for the industry. In total, The Office of Medical Cannabis has granted licenses to 100 dispensaries as well as 10 growers and 10 processors to produce the product. Of the dispensaries, there are 32 different companies, and 23 counties will be dispensary sites.

This will probably be the extent of the program growth so far, as the state’s legislature has capped the program at 10 permits for growers and 10 for processors. However, it remains to be seen whether or not this will be enough to supply the fledgling industry.

The reason it took so long to get medical cannabis up and running in West Virginia has to do with the issues the state encountered in 2019 regarding fees, penalties and taxes and how to handle them with the new industry. A lot of that had to do with federal laws and issues with banking, and now that a federal bill has been passed to support cannabis banking, the industry was able to move forward. 

This is all good news, but even though the industry was able to move forward, they still have not been able to pass a law that adds more dispensaries, processors, and growers. Smokable cannabis and edibles, to favorites for many patients, are also still not allowed. West Virginia only allows for cannabis vaping, but it is not clear how that law will be enforced once product is purchased. 

“The timing is based on the progress that the growers and processors are making to continue to build out the industry,” said DHHR spokesperson Andrea Lannom. “We anticipate that products will be available to consumers in the fall, but that can change if delays with these two groups are experienced.”

While there have been many setbacks, and it’s unclear what the future of cannabis looks like in West Virginia, medical patients across the state are rejoicing that they can finally get the product they need.

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