West Virginia’s Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect

“Welcome to West Virginia” sign along westbound U.S. Route 48 and West Virginia Route 55 east of Wardensville in Hardy County, West Virginia (Wikimedia/Famartin)

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia’s limited medical marijuana law officially took effect this week, although patients will not benefit from the new law for two more years.

Passed earlier this year and signed into law by Governor Jim Justice in April, Senate Bill 386, also known as the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, will allow seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it once the program is up and running.

Qualified patients will be allowed to access cannabis-infused products, such as oils, pills and tinctures, but will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis or possess marijuana in herbal form, similar to medical marijuana programs up and running in Minnesota and New York, as well as those that are coming soon in LouisianaPennsylvania and Ohio.

Patients may qualify for medical cannabis if they have a terminal illness or if they suffer from cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable seizures, sickle cell anemia, or “severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or has proved ineffective as determined as part of continuing care.”

Once the program is operational, patients will be allowed to possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana products, although state regulators have yet to define what constitutes a “30 day supply.”  The only types of medical cannabis allowed initially are pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid, and non-whole plant forms for administration through vaporization.

Dispensaries will not be allowed to sell marijuana-infused edibles, but cannabis products could be mixed into food or drinks by patients themselves. Vaporization f oils) is allowed, but smoking is prohibited.

Under the new law, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health will be charged with oversight of the program, including by developing rules, inspecting medical cannabis businesses, processing applications, and issuing patient ID cards and business licenses.

The state will issue up to 10 medical cannabis grower permits, with up to two locations each, up to 10 processor permits, and no more than 30 dispensary permits.  Applicants will pay $2,500 per dispensary application and $5,000 per grower or processor application. Registration fees are $10,000 for each dispensary location and $50,000 for grower and processors.

The state is required to begin issuing patient identification cards by July 1, 2019. Patients will be charged $50 for an identification card, but the fee can be waived for those with financial hardships.

Full text of the law is available here.

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