HUNTINGTON — Voters in Putnam County widely approved four measures to permit medical cannabis facilities to open in the county.
The measures will allow cannabis grow, processing, dispensary and laboratories to operate in the county. Each measure passed with more than 60% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election, according to unofficial results from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.
Under West Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Act, passed in 2017, counties are permitted to prohibit any and all cannabis industries by a vote of the people.
The medical cannabis program should have been up and running by summer of 2019, but the program has had a slow start. One roadblock was finding a bank that would work with the state to deal with funds from the sale of the still federally illegal drug.
But this year the Office of Medical Cannabis began accepting applications for the different industries.
According to Jason Frame, director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, the organization received license applications for 199 dispensaries, 44 growers, 41 processors and one laboratory. All application fees — $50,000 for growers and processors and $10,000 for dispensaries — were due March 3.
The application process can take up to six months, so it will still be some time before any county sees the cannabis industry take root.
Under the act, only patients experiencing certain medical conditions — such as cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and other chronic or terminal illnesses — may be eligible to receive medical cannabis in dry leaf, pill, tincture, vape, patch or topical forms from physicians.
Permitting the use of dry leaf/plant form was added to the law this year. Since 2017, lawmakers have amended the act further, also permitting “vertical integration,” which permits one person to operate within the different industries.
The Office of Medical Cannabis is now accepting physician registrations, needed to prescribe cannabis. Four hours of education are required. Registration and links to the training can be found at https://dhhr.wv.gov/bph/Pages/Medical-Cannabis-Program.aspx.