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Legislature Significantly Amends the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act

On the first day of West Virginia’s legislative special session, the West Virginia Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1037, which made significant amendments to the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act (the “Act”).  The legislature removed various impediments to growing, processing, and dispensing medical cannabis throughout the State.  Notable changes under Senate Bill 1037 include:

  • Increasing the number of available dispensary permits
    • The Act will now provide up to 100 dispensaries throughout the State (instead of 30).
    • An applicant can now have a permit for up to 10 dispensaries.
  • Authorizing vertical integration of medical cannabis organizations
    • An applicant can be a grower, processor, and a dispensary.
  • Taxing medical cannabis
    • Growers/processors are no longer paying state taxes on the sale of medical cannabis to dispensaries; the tax burden is shifted to dispensaries.  Dispensaries are subject to a privilege tax of 10% on gross receipts from the sale of medical cannabis to a patient or caregiver.
    • Dispensaries are explicitly exempt from any kind of sales or use tax, including any kind of special district excise tax, or any county or municipal sales tax.
  • Providing physicians with greater discretion when issuing a certification for medical cannabis to a patient
    • Physicians no longer have to care for a patient for at least 6 months or otherwise determine that opiate therapy for the patient would be ineffective prior to issuing a certification for medical cannabis.
  • Removing the requirement that a pharmacist/physician be present at dispensaries when dispensing medical cannabis
    • The presence of a pharmacist/physician at dispensaries would greatly increase the dispensary’s operating costs under the Act.
  • Disbanding medical cannabis “regions” throughout the state
    • In place of defined regions, permits will be awarded to medical cannabis organizations based on a scoring rubric as outlined in the Act and crafted by the Office of Medical Cannabis.
  • Imposing in-state residency requirements for permit holders
    • An applicant for a grower, processor, or dispensary permit must be a West Virginia resident.  If the applicant is a business, it must be majority-owned by a West Virginia resident.
  • Creating a pre-registration process for patients
    • Eligible patients will have the ability to pre-register for medical cannabis.  Since the state cannot accept application fees yet, this has no practical impact at this time.

In sum, Senate Bill 1037 provides needed clarity to patients, investors, businesses and local communities.  

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About this Author

Joshua Jarrell, Steptoe-Johnson Law Firm, Charleston, Finance Law Attorney
Of Counsel

Josh Jarrell concentrates his practice in public and project finance, municipal bonds and economic development. He also has a background in energy law and title-curative issues. His work throughout the region has built valuable relationships nationwide and fostered in-depth knowledge of options available to developers in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Clients appreciate his focus and accessibility as much as they do his legal experience. He is the former Deputy Secretary and General Counsel at the West Virginia Department of Commerce, where he counseled the...

304-353-8136
Ryan Dunne Ewing Medical Cannabis Attorney Steptoe Johnson Law Firm
Associate

Ryan Dunne Ewing represents corporate medical cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries within West Virginia. Ryan ensures prospective medical cannabis organizations comply with the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act and facilitates proper capital handling procedures under the Patriot and Bank Secrecy Acts.

Ryan’s practice also focuses on state and federal infrastructure development.  He regularly counsels both public and private utilities before the Public Service Commission of West Virginia, and he has experience with the funding and financing of infrastructure expansion projects.  Ryan has also represented clients before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concerning interstate and intrastate natural gas transmission pipelines.

Ryan has a wide range of experience on the regulation and expansion of infrastructure on both a state and federal level, including: applications for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, base rate cases, pressure commitment obligations, firm capacity requirements, underground natural gas storage facilities, expedited recovery of infrastructure costs through rate base, pipeline replacement expansion programs, municipal appeal rate cases, earnings tests, depreciation rate cases, affiliated transaction cases, purchased gas adjustment proceedings, purchases and sales of public utilities, consolidation proceedings, and defense of customer complaints.

304-353-8186