|Com. Sub. for S. B. 231 – Relating generally to medical cannabis.The bill updates the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act by increasing the geographic locations of dispensaries and the forms of acceptable medical cannabis. The bill makes other necessary technical and administrative changes, including clarifying that the Tax Division of the Department of Revenue, along with the Bureau of Public Health, will monitor the price of medical cannabis, and applies the provisions of the West Virginia Tax Crimes and Penalties Act and the West Virginia Tax Procedure and Administration Act to the medical cannabis tax.
Additionally, the bill creates a “Compassion certificate” which is a temporary certification issued by a practitioner for patients and caregivers to grow, possess, use, or give away cannabis without remuneration for the purpose of obtaining access to medical cannabis. A compassion certificate authorizes a patient or caregiver to lawfully grow no more than 12 mature flowering cannabis plants and up to 12 cannabis seedlings at any one time, and authorizes each patient to possess no more than four ounces of dry flower or leaf medical cannabis per patient.
The bill removes current prohibitions on smoking medical cannabis, incorporating or selling it in edible form and growing it unless authorized as a health care medical cannabis organization under article thirteen of this chapter. It also removes the prohibition on dispensing medical cannabis unless the dispensary has received a permit from the bureau under this act. The bill also removes the $10,000 permit fee for each location.
The bill authorizes the commissioner to enter into reciprocity agreements with any state that has comparable requirements for medical cannabis patients and caregivers to possess, transport, use, and transfer without remuneration medical cannabis in this and any other such approved state.
It removes the current requirement that before a permit is issued there must be the written approval of the board of health in the county where the permit is to be located.
The bill creates a new requirement that any person employed by a medical cannabis organization involved in the growing, processing, or dispensing of medical cannabis must be 18 years of age or older and registered with the bureau.
Dispensaries may not be located within 1,000 feet of public, private, or parochial school or a daycare center, by providing the measurement must be from front door to front door, along the street or streets.
Jason Frame, Director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, commented on the bill, noting that he only got access to the committee substitute several minutes before the committee meeting. He said that at least two issues addressed by the bill have already been addressed by prior legislation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill, and it now goes to the Senate floor for consideration.