West Virginia legislature approves medical cannabis legalization

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(Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version.)

West Virginia appears poised to become the 30th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana after the Republican-controlled legislature signed off on a bill Thursday night establishing an MMJ program.

The measure now goes to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jim Justice, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported. He is expected to sign it.

According to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the measure levies a 6% excise tax on MMJ and establishes a start date of July 2019.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail earlier reported the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health would have the authority to cap prices and also would be tasked with:
  • Issuing permits to growers, dispensaries and processors
  • Establishing enforcement and inspection procedures
  • Reviewing physician applications
  • Creating a four-hour training program for doctors
  • Maintaining a directory of patients and caregivers

An earlier Senate bill allowed smokable marijuana, permitted home growing and called for a 16-member commission to manage the program.

The bill that ultimately was passed, however, prohibits smokable flower and home growing, allows counties to ban medical cannabis businesses and, as noted, gives management of the program to the Bureau for Public Health.