West Virginia regulators have announced that the Office of Medical Cannabis will begin accepting applications next month for permits to operate in the state’s...

West Virginia regulators have announced that the Office of Medical Cannabis will begin accepting applications next month for permits to operate in the state’s coming legal medical marijuana industry. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health said in a press release on Tuesday that the application period would open on December 19.

During the 60-day application period, prospective cannabis growers, processors, distributors, and dispensaries will be able to apply online at www.medcanwv.org. Applications will only be accepted through the Office of Medical Cannabis website; paper applications will not be available.

Jason Frame, Director of the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis, said that the state is on its way to regulated medicinal cannabis for its residents.

“This is a key step in the process to make medical cannabis available to West Virginians with serious medical conditions,” said Frame. “We and many others continue to work toward a goal of providing eligible West Virginia residents the ability to procure quality-tested medical cannabis.”

The application period for permits to operate in West Virginia’s medicinal cannabis industry will begin on December 19, 2019 at 3 p.m. and will close on February 18 at 3 p.m. No further applications will be accepted by the Office of Medicinal Cannabis after that date.

Long Road to Patient Access

West Virginia lawmakers passed the bill that legalized the medicinal use of cannabis, SB 386, in April 2017. After Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill into law the same month, Matt Simon of advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project said that the bill is a milestone for health care in the state.

“This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said Simon. “Medical marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. It is a proven pain reliever, and it is far less toxic and less addictive than a lot of prescription drugs. Providing patients with a safer alternative to opioids could turn out to be a godsend for this state.”

Since SB 386 was signed by Justice, the West Virginia legislature has been busy with several more bills to implement the medicinal cannabis program, including one measure passed in March of this year that outlines banking procedures for the industry. Another bill passed in a special session in May will allow for the vertical integration of cannabis firms that obtain the necessary permits.

Even with the progress made, patients in West Virginia won’t be getting access to medicinal cannabis anytime soon. In June, Department of Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Allison Adler said that it will take two to three years before medical marijuana is available in dispensaries. Until then, only terminally ill patients can obtain their medicine from other states that have patient reciprocity agreements in place.

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