west virginia marijuana laws

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West Virginia Marijuana Laws 2024

June 27, 2024

In 2021, West Virginia joined the growing number of states in the USA to have legalized cannabis for medical use. The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act authorizes the use of cannabis for qualified patients with specific medical conditions. It is part of a broader trend in the United States, where medical cannabis use is becoming increasingly legal, but unlike some other states, West Virginia does not currently allow recreational cannabis use. The legalization of cannabis has been a controversial issue in West Virginia: those in favor argue for the potential economic and health benefits, while those opposed express concerns about public safety and health problems.

Under West Virginia marijuana laws, patients with specific qualifying medical conditions are permitted to use medical cannabis for treatment. The program is overseen by the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis, which is tasked with licensing and regulating cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries. A patient registry has been established by law, allowing people to obtain a medical cannabis card for purchasing and using cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Medical Marijuana Program in West Virginia

According to ​​​​​​Senate Bill 386, patients with certain qualifying medical conditions are allowed to use medical cannabis as a form of treatment. The program is regulated by the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis, which is responsible for licensing and regulating cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries in the state. Under the law, a patient registry was established, enabling people to obtain a medical cannabis card to purchase and use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Qualifying Conditions

Patients in West Virginia may obtain a medical marijuana card if they have any of the following qualifying medical conditions:

  • Chronic or intractable pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Painful peripheral neuropathy
  • Severe or persistent muscle spasms
  • Severe nausea or vomiting due to chemotherapy or other chronic/debilitating conditions
  • Anorexia or weight loss due to chronic/debilitating conditions
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Cancer

For detailed information on qualifying conditions, visit the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis.

Who Can Purchase Marijuana in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, only individuals and their caregivers with a valid medical marijuana card issued by the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) may legally purchase and possess marijuana for medical purposes. To qualify for a medical marijuana card, a patient must be diagnosed with one of the state’s qualifying medical conditions and certified by a registered physician.​

Medical Marijuana Card Registration Process:

  • Qualifying Conditions: Patients must have a diagnosis of a qualifying medical condition. 
  • Physician Certification: A registered physician must certify the patient’s condition and recommend medical cannabis as a treatment option. Physicians must complete a specific training course and register with the OMC.
  • Application Submission: Patients must submit an application to the West Virginia OMC, including the physician’s certification and other required documentation. The application process and necessary forms are available on the OMC website.​

Purchasing Limits:

The amount of marijuana that a registered patient or their caregiver may buy and possess is limited by law to a 30-day supply of medical marijuana. This is defined as no more than four ounces of dried usable medical marijuana or its equivalent in other forms, such as oils, tinctures, and concentrates.

Licensed Dispensaries:

Patients may only purchase medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries within West Virginia. It is illegal to transport medical marijuana across state lines or to share or sell it to anyone who is not a registered medical marijuana patient in West Virginia.

Regulations and Compliance:

The West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis strictly monitors and regulates the medical cannabis program to ensure compliance with state laws and regulations. Violations, such as unauthorized possession or distribution of medical marijuana, can result in criminal charges and the revocation of the patient’s medical marijuana card​. 

Following state regulations is essential for dispensaries. To ensure smooth compliance, choosing a point-of-sale (POS) system that integrates with Metrc is critical. The best systems offer clear and user-friendly tools to manage and track your Metrc account directly. IndicaOnline provides a powerful POS system that seamlessly connects with Metrc. This simplifies record-keeping and helps dispensaries maintain compliance with minimal effort.

Where Can I Use Marijuana in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, the use of medical marijuana is strictly regulated to ensure it is used safely and appropriately by registered patients. Here is a detailed guide on where medical marijuana can and cannot be used in West Virginia:

Permitted Use Locations:

  • Private Residences: Registered medical marijuana patients are allowed to use medical marijuana within their private residences. This ensures the use of medical marijuana is confined to personal and controlled environments.

Prohibited Use Locations:

  • Public Places: It is illegal to use medical marijuana in any public space. This includes streets, parks, and other publicly accessible areas.
  • School Grounds: The use of medical marijuana is strictly prohibited on all school properties, including elementary schools, secondary schools, and college campuses.
  • Areas Where Smoking is Prohibited: Any location where smoking is generally prohibited, such as restaurants, bars, and workplaces, also bans the use of medical marijuana

Growing Marijuana in West Virginia

In West Virginia, cultivating marijuana for any purpose, including medical use, is strictly illegal under the state’s marijuana laws. The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act permits registered patients to purchase medical marijuana only from licensed dispensaries and explicitly prohibits personal cultivation​.

Legal Framework:

  • Prohibition on Personal Cultivation: The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act does not allow patients to grow their own cannabis plants. All medical marijuana must be obtained from state-licensed dispensaries that adhere to stringent regulations regarding quality and safety.​

Penalties for Illegal Cultivation:

  • Running an illegal drug paraphernalia business is a crime in West Virginia. Penalties include fines of up to $5,000 and jail time of 6 months to 1 year.
  • Possession of marijuana in any amount is a crime. Punishments include 90 days to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Repeat offenders face double penalties.

Additional Legal Consequences:

  • Forfeiture: Any property used in the illegal cultivation or distribution of marijuana, such as vehicles, real estate, and money, may be seized and forfeited to the state.​
  • Driver’s License Revocation: Convictions related to drug offenses, including marijuana cultivation, can result in the revocation of the offender’s driver’s license. 

Driving Under the Influence in West Virginia

Operating a vehicle or heavy machinery while under the influence of marijuana, including medical marijuana, is illegal in West Virginia. Driving under the influence of cannabis (DUI) is a criminal offense that carries serious legal consequences. Here is a detailed guide based on official West Virginia resources:

Legal Standards and Definitions:

  • THC Concentration: A person can be charged with DUI if they have a blood concentration of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of blood. This is a measurable standard used to assess impairment.
  • Incapable of Safe Operation: Even without a specific THC concentration, a person can be charged with DUI if they are under the influence of marijuana to the extent they are incapable of safely operating a vehicle.

The severity of the penalties depends on various factors, such as the amount of marijuana consumed, the driver’s prior DUI convictions, and whether they caused any accidents or injuries while driving under the influence. It is also illegal to transport medical marijuana across state lines.

Note: West Virginia adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence (DUI of any substance, including medical marijuana. This section outlines the penalties for various DUI offenses:

  • First-time DUI (BAC 0.08%-0.149%): Up to 6 months jail, $100-$500 fine.
  • Aggravated DUI (BAC 0.15%+): Minimum 48 hours jail (24 hours served), up to 6 months jail, $200-$1,000 fine.
  • DUI under 21 (BAC 0.02%-0.079%): $25-$100 fine (no jail).
  • DUI causing injury: Minimum 24 hours to 1 year jail, $200-$1,000 fine.
  • DUI causing death: 2-10 years prison, $1,000-$3,000 fine.

Medical marijuana patients are subject to the same DUI laws as other drivers. Using medical marijuana does not exempt you from DUI charges if you are found impaired while driving. Therefore, the information and guidelines provided here should not be considered legal advice. For the most current information, please refer to official state resources.

Impact on Medical Marijuana Patients:

Medical marijuana patients must adhere to the same DUI laws as other drivers. The fact that marijuana is used for medical purposes does not exempt patients from DUI charges if they are found to be impaired while driving. 

Advertising and Labeling Laws in West Virginia

The advertising and labeling of medical marijuana products under the West Virginia marijuana laws are subject to strict regulations under the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act.

All medical marijuana products sold in West Virginia must include the following information on their labels:

  • Licensed Processor Information: The label must clearly display the name and address of the licensed processor who produced the item.
  • Testing Information: The date the product was tested, the name of the laboratory that conducted the testing, and the test results must be included.
  • Product Details: To help patients use the product safely and effectively, the date of packaging, expiration date, and storage instructions must be specified. Additionally, the dosage and concentration of the product must be clearly indicated.
  • Patient Identification: The registered patient’s name and registry identification number for whom the product is intended must be included. This measure is intended to prevent the misuse or diversion of medical marijuana.

Advertising of medical marijuana products in West Virginia is subject to strict limitations to ensure the information is directed appropriately and responsibly:

  • Targeted Advertising: Advertising must be factual, accurate, and non-misleading, and it should be directed specifically at registered patients and caregivers. 
  • Prohibited Mass Advertising: Mass advertising through billboards, radio, television, or other forms of mass media is prohibited. This restriction is intended to prevent the promotion of medical marijuana to the general public and ensure marketing efforts are focused on those who have a legitimate medical need for cannabis.

Permitted Advertising Channels: Licensed dispensaries may use direct mailings, email marketing, and other targeted forms of advertising directed specifically at registered patients and caregivers. These materials must be factual and not suggest the use of medical marijuana is completely risk-free​.

Tax Regulations in West Virginia

West Virginia taxes medical marijuana sales at 10% on top of regular sales tax and any local taxes. This revenue goes to:

  • Medical Cannabis Program: Manages the program’s efficiency.
  • Drug Treatment: Combats substance abuse and addiction.
  • Local Governments: Supports law enforcement and public safety.

Licensed sellers must collect and pay this tax quarterly, as non-compliance leads to fines and legal action. Failure to pay the required cannabis taxes can lead to substantial fines. These fines are designed to enforce compliance and deter future violations. Continuous non-compliance or attempts to evade tax obligations can escalate to more severe penalties, including the possibility of criminal charges.

The tax can be a burden and discourage some from using it; however, the revenue helps fund vital public programs. Insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana, and patients pay for it out of their own pockets.

Safe Use of Medical Marijuana in West Virginia

West Virginia has established medical marijuana laws allowing patients with certain qualifying conditions to use it as a treatment option. The program is strictly regulated to ensure the safe and effective use of medical marijuana. Despite some restrictions on its use, eligible patients can access medical marijuana products that are safe, effective, and lab-tested.

The tax on medical marijuana sales in West Virginia supports essential public programs, including the medical cannabis program, drug treatment and prevention initiatives, and local government projects.

Note: Marijuana laws in West Virginia, as in many other states, are subject to frequent changes. Therefore, the information and guidelines provided here should not be considered legal advice. For the most current information, please refer to official state resources.