It has been a slow road to legalization in West Virginia. Medical marijuana bills were introduced in the state each year between 2010 and 2015. However, there were enough opponents to prevent any bill from passing into law. Finally, the resistance was broken in 2017 when Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 386 into law on April 19. It legalized weed for specific medical conditions, and it was supposed to go into effect in July 2019.
Of course, in politics, and especially when it comes to medical cannabis, nothing is ever that straightforward. There were fears of a delay because banks were worried about being charged with violating federal drug and banking laws. As of May 2020, there was still little in the way of good news for MMJ purchases in West Virginia. The likelihood is that there won’t be sales of medical cannabis in the state until 2021 or even 2022!
In February 2020, there was news of further tweaks to the program. The suggestion is that the original bill has flaws and regulations that make it unworkable in its present form. For example, SB 386 doesn’t include cannabis flower in the list of allowed consumables. SB 339 is up for consideration and would permit the use of flower.
Even now, there isn’t a process for the relevant departments to accept and disperse funds relating to applications for permits. There are also problems with the fees associated with implementing the act. Therefore, the original timelines for rolling out the program quickly became impossible.
It may take a while for you to earn an MMJ card in West Virginia finally. When you do, the following is the likely means of applying.
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How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in West Virginia
West Virginia’s MMJ program may not allow sales until 2021 or 2022. As of May 2020, the Office of Medical Cannabis said it was committed to ensuring qualifying patients will have access to MMJ within two years.
When the program begins accepting patients, here is what the process will probably look like. First and foremost, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a qualifying medical condition. We will show you the list of conditions in the next section.
If you are under the age of 18, you need an authorized caregiver to avail of the program.
Step 1 – Register with the Bureau
If you believe you have a qualifying medical condition, you will need to register with the state Bureau of Public Health. It operates as part of the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Commission. You need to have a legitimate doctor-patient relationship for at least six months before you can ask the doctor for a recommendation.
Step 2 – Obtain a Physician’s Certification
You will need to use a doctor that has registered with the Bureau and has completed the mandatory four-hour course. If your regular physician does not get involved, you must find a certified doctor and wait six months before you can get a certification.
The doctor will conduct a thorough assessment of your medical history. You must also complete a physical examination to prove you have a condition that qualifies you for an MMJ card in West Virginia.
Expect all physicians to take the issue seriously. If they knowingly certify any individual who does not qualify, they face a felony charge and could spend six months in prison.
Step 3 – Apply for a Medical Cannabis ID
Once the doctor approves you, it is time to send in your application with the signed certification. Please note that your physician will continue to monitor your condition to see if you still need to use cannabis. If he decides that you don’t, he must report to the Bureau and state that you no longer need medical marijuana to treat your condition.
Upon providing you with the certification, your physician must tell the Bureau that you are likely to get palliative or therapeutic benefits from the use of medical marijuana. They must also state that treatments such as the use of opioids have proven ineffective for your condition.
Step 4 – Purchase Medical Marijuana from An Approved Dispensary
Once you receive your ID card, you can buy weed from an approved dispensary. The Bureau said it would offer ten cultivator licenses, ten manufacturer licenses, and 30 dispensary licenses. However, we have read reports that up to 100 dispensary licenses may be handed out in the end. The list of towns allowed to host a dispensary includes Charleston, Elkins, South Charleston, Huntington, Clarksburg, and Wheeling.
The Office of Medical Cannabis stopped taking permit applications from MMJ processors, dispensaries, growers, and laboratories in February 2020. It is not accepting any further applications at this time.
What Are the West Virginia Medical Marijuana Costs?
Patients will likely pay $50, although you may get it for free if you can prove ‘financial hardship.’ Based on what has happened in other states, the physician’s fee is likely to be between $200 and $300.
It costs $5,000 for a processor or grower application and $2,500 for a dispensary application. If the latter seems cheap, you won’t think so when the $10,000 registration fee per location is added on! Growers and processors have to pay a $50,000 fee per location. There is also going to be a 10% sales tax on sales from a grower/processor to a dispensary.
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in West Virginia?
At present, the following medical conditions will allow you to become eligible for an MMJ card in West Virginia:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Severe, chronic, or intractable pain, which is neuropathic in origin, or else opiate and conventional therapy have proven ineffective as a means of treating the condition.
- Sickle cell anemia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Terminal illness
- Crohn’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Damage to the spinal cord nervous tissue with an ‘objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity’
- Intractable seizures
Other Information on the West Virginia Medical Marijuana License Process
There is a lot we don’t yet know about the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Program. However, we have tried our best to provide as much information as possible.
How Much Marijuana Can I Buy & Possess?
The law will allow for a 30-day supply of cannabis at one time. However, there is no guidance regarding the number of ounces.
Can I Grow Marijuana at Home?
No. The current version of the program does not allow home cultivation.
Where Can I Buy my MMJ?
The state has not yet released details of where the dispensaries will be located. The number of dispensary licenses could range from 30 to 100. Interestingly, dispensaries are not allowed to sell marijuana edibles or flower according to the program. Instead, you’ll have access to:
- Other non-whole plant forms
Also, smoking marijuana is not allowed, but vaporization is.
How Long Will the MMJ Card Process Take?
It is believed that it will take patients between 30 and 90 days to get their MMJ card. However, no one knows for sure because the program is a long way away from the beginning.
Is There a Reciprocity Agreement?
The Bureau will likely enter into reciprocity agreements with states. However, these locations must have ‘comparable’ requirements for the usage and lawful purchase of medical marijuana. Patients with a terminal illness will undoubtedly be allowed to buy weed in another state with such an agreement.
Can Minors Purchase MMJ in West Virginia?
Patients under the age of 18 (minors) can get medical weed via a caregiver who can be a parent or legal guardian. They can also use any individual approved by the Bureau if there is no appropriate parent or legal guardian available.
What Is the Caregiver Process?
The caregiver needs to go through a criminal background check, apply for an ID card, and register with the Bureau of Health. Only those aged 21+ may apply. The patient also needs to have an ID card issued by the Bureau. Incidentally, a caregiver can be designated by a maximum of five patients. Each MMJ patient can select a maximum of two caregivers.
Where Can I Use My MMJ in West Virginia?
Though the guidelines are not 100% clear, WV will likely follow the rules of other states. This means only using your MMJ at home or in a private residence.
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with more information. However, we will update this guide as and when we get more relevant details. Until then, resist the urge to use MMJ in West Virginia without a card. Possession of any amount is a misdemeanor, with a possible jail term of 3-6 months and a fine of $1,000. Sale of any amount is a felony with a prison sentence of 1-5 years as the punishment. You also get a fine of up to $15,000!
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