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West Virginia Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Agonize Over Licensing Delays

August 7, 2019

West Virginia medical marijuana dispensaries have been waiting since April of 2017 to start making sales to medical patients. The West Virginia Department of Health has indicated that they expect sales to commence in 2021 or 2022 blaming all the delays on struggles securing banking services for businesses.

Banking Delays for Dispensaries

These delays are painstaking for many West Virginia medical marijuana dispensaries who are locked into rental leases and losing money every month. If the current schedule is accurate, West Virginia could become the slowest state in the country to implement a medical marijuana program.

The Department of Health communications director, Allison Adler, explained that, “it is important to note that after a solution to the current banking issue is found, it will take time for multiple stages of the medical cannabis permitting process to be implemented.” She was quick to add that there are other aspects of the industry that will need to be built out such as staffing and development, rules implementation and registration of medical providers and patients.

Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, also points to a “particularly aggressive” U.S. attorney “who created a situation where no banks were willing to risk dealing with any aspect of the industry or the state’s program.”

Limits on Cannabis Licenses and Products

When the state does to decide to start licensing West Virginia medical marijuana dispensaries, the product selection will be limited as smokable marijuana and edibles are still banned. These products are the foundation of many successful medical marijuana programs and their absence could hinder the growth of the cannabis industry in West Virginia.

The West Virginia medical marijuana program will eventually license businesses but caps are set according tolegislation passed in May:

  • Up to 10 growers. Each grower may have up to two locations per permit.
  • Up to 10 processors.
  • Up to 100 dispensaries.

An individual or business is allowed to possess cultivation, processor and dispensary licenses, but one individual is not allowed to hold more than 10 dispensary permits.

Cannabis attorney Sally Peebles offered some words or wisdom for West Virginia medical marijuana regulators noting that it, “would be wise to take note of what has recently unfolded in other southern states like Florida and Arkansas, where limiting licenses and creating a merit-based application process has placed the regulators in the unfortunate position of being the primary target for litigation.”