BUCKHANNON — In April of 2017, Governor Jim Justice signed a bill (386) into law that allows cannabis to be used for certified medical purposes by West Virginia residents with serious medical conditions. Cannabis may be legally prescribed in the following forms: pills, oils, topical gels and creams, dry plant form, tinctures, liquids, and/or dermal patches.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources committed to a goal that would allow West Virginia patients with qualifying medical conditions to be able to obtain tested, quality cannabis within a timespan of two years.
The Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) began accepting applications for medical marijuana growers, processors and distributors. All three avenues of applications required their own criteria, qualifications and fees. On October 2, 2020, the OMC announced the approval of 10 grow licenses, granting 10 medical marijuana grow permits. Then, on November 13, they announced the recipients of 10 processing licenses. In all of West Virginia, two grow licenses, as well as two processing licenses were awarded to Upshur County based companies! Armory Pharmaceutical, Inc. was awarded both a grow license and a processing license. Buckhannon WV Processing, LLC received a processing license, and Buckhannon Grow, LLC received a grow license. Of all 55 counties in the state, Upshur was fortunate to receive a total of four licenses out of the limited 20 that were awarded.
OMC Director Jason Frame stated in regard to the application approvals, “This is an important step in the process to make medical cannabis available to West Virginians with serious medical conditions and will generate economic growth activity throughout West Virginia.”
The OMC will next review and approve a number of applications for distribution, granting a limited number of companies a “dispensary license.” Once the successful applicants have been announced, the next step will begin the process of issuing medical patient cards in the spring of 2021. Before issuing medical cards to the public, the OMC has opened applications for Physician Registration and Education. The registration application, as well as a mandatory four-hour physician course are available at dhhr.wv.gov.
Interested in obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card when they become available? The DHHR has defined qualifying “serious medical conditions” in a list that includes, but is not limited to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, and sickle cell anemia.
The Medical Marijuana Act is projected to help Upshur County and the State of West Virginia in more ways than one. The Act will provide revenue to the Fight Substance Abuse Fund, as well as providing funding to implement research to study the impact medical cannabis has on patient wellbeing. West Virginia has been suffering through an “Opioid Crisis,” and medical cannabis is expected to greatly decrease the numbers of substance abuse by providing a safe and non-addictive alternative to prescription opiates. Apart from revenue and opioid relief, the cultivation of legal cannabis in West Virginia is also predicted to increase tourism and business opportunities in the state.
The other counties that now house licensed medical cannabis companies are Cabell, Harrison, Raleigh, Berkeley, Roane, Mineral, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Jefferson and Mason. As this industry is expected to boom, Upshur County was very fortunate to be granted 20% of the grow licenses, and 20% of the processing licenses. The only other county in West Virginia to receive more than one application approval was Raleigh County.
Keep an eye out for upcoming news regarding the recipients of the dispensary licenses, furthering the process to granting medical cards to qualifying West Virginia residents. For questions and additional information regarding medical marijuana, visit dhhr.wv.gov.